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Tagged:  Publishing innovation

How EES - EU44_EESLogo

How online submission is evolving to better support editors

Since its launch in 2002, the Elsevier Editorial System (EES) has been Elsevier’s preferred online submission and peer-review system and now caters for around 2,120 journals. As you may know, we are currently developing a new web-based publishing workspace to replace EES. This new system — EVISE — has been designed to make the publishing experience easier […]

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Since its launch in 2002, the Elsevier Editorial System (EES) has been Elsevier’s preferred online submission and peer-review system and now caters for around 2,120 journals.

As you may know, we are currently developing a new web-based publishing workspace to replace EES. This new system — EVISE — has been designed to make the publishing experience easier and less time-consuming by providing improved intelligence, communication, connections, ease, clarity and personalization. We have been working closely with researchers and current users of EES throughout the development process and will continue to do so after the initial launch, with new features and functionality being included in each subsequent release. EVISE will introduce a range of new benefits for editors including:

  • A ‘My Assignments’ dashboard offering a customizable view of submission lists
  • A dedicated homepage for all submissions from which editors will be able to take all relevant actions, such as making an editorial decision and inviting reviewers
  • Visualized reviewer statuses and the ability to remind reviewers from the submission homepage
  • A ‘My Reviewers’ overview for an at-a-glance view of the status of all reviewers linked to submissions
  • Automated reminders for all tasks
  • Adjustable communication templates allowing messages to be personalized, as required

While development work on EVISE continues, the EES product development team has introduced a range of new tools and services with the aim of improving your EES experience. Many of these will also feature in EVISE so let’s take a brief look at them.

Automated article transfer service (ATS)

Quite often, we see research submitted that is of sound science, but not suited to the scope of the selected journal. ATS allows editors of around 600 participating journals to decline (rather than reject) the paper and transfer it to another, more suitable journal. To do this they simply select the right decision term in EES and identify the appropriate receiving journal(s). Editors can easily check the status of a transfer by looking at the dedicated ATS flags or at the ATS section in the manuscript’s ‘History’ screen. For editors of receiving journals, it is now easier to identify transferred papers within a journal, and view related information, such as reviewer comments. Automated ATS was first delivered in June of 2013, with enhancements delivered in January and April this year. The most recent enhancements support an author-driven transfer; all the editor needs to do is decline the submission. We will continue to add journals to existing and new ATS clusters during the course of this year.

How EES - EU44_EES_Fig1

User profile consolidation

We regularly conduct an audit of EES tools and processes to determine where improvements can be made. The major recommendations from a 2012 audit prompted a security change: user profile consolidation. First delivered in the early part of 2013, profile consolidation enables users to create one profile in EES with one username (email address) and password. This means people with multiple roles (editor, reviewer, author) across multiple journals, can create one profile applicable to all those roles/journals. Equally importantly, users consolidating their profiles in EES are protected from people misusing their profile because only they, as the registered user, have total control over the personal information it contains. More information about the benefits of user profile consolidation can be found on this Profile Consolidation FAQ. Consolidated users also benefit from ‘my EES hub’, which enables them to see an overview of all pending reviewer and author activities across all relevant journals. Uptake of user profile consolidation has been very high with 1.3 million unique profiles now created across 3.5 million accounts in EES. Enhancements to this feature have been delivered at regular intervals based on feedback from users. More information can be found here.

Did you know?

  • EES currently receives more than 1.4 million submissions annually from 14 million researchers (both corresponding and co-authors); 95 percent are satisfied with their experiences.
  • There are 3.6 million reviewers active in EES each year, 90 percent of whom have expressed satisfaction with the system.
  • There are 25,000 editors active annually in EES; however, with editor satisfaction currently at 82 percent, it is clear there are still opportunities for us to improve the service and we have been monitoring your feedback closely leading to many of the developments outlined in this article.

ORCID integration

ORCID is an open, non-profit, community-based initiative. By registering with ORCID, users receive a unique digital identifier — also called an ORCID or Open Researcher and Contributor ID — to which they can link their published articles and other professional activities. Researchers then have a single record of all their research, which can be made public. This can reduce or eliminate confusion when the same person's name appears in different ways in various publications, when people have the same or similar names, or when people change their name, e.g. following marriage. Put simply, an ORCID provides a unique identity for researchers — an ‘author DOI’ — similar to that used for publications.

EES integration with ORCID began in late-summer 2013 and we have already seen almost 50,000 EES user accounts linked to ORCID profiles; in fact, 20 percent of all EES submissions are now associated with an ORCID.

How EES - EU44_EES_Fig2 How EES - EU44_EES_Fig3

Editors can now search for reviewers on EES using an ORCID, which will help to ensure the right person is contacted when names are similar. If a user has linked their ORCID to their EES profile, the ORCID will be displayed in an additional column in the profile as a clickable link that opens the user’s public record on the ORCID website. This will allow editors to see the full list of research linked to that user, which will help with identifying suitable reviewers.

CrossCheck integration

The plagiarism tool CrossCheck has now been integrated into EES for a large number of journals. CrossCheck is configurable by article type in EES. Once an author has submitted a manuscript, EES will automatically upload the editor PDF to CrossCheck’s iThenticate website, where it will be checked against a huge database of publications. Editors can then view an automatically generated similarity report within EES. Over the past few months, several feature enhancements have been introduced based on your feedback and we will continue to roll out the tool with the aim of making it available to all journals by the end of 2014.

Find Reviewers tool

The Find Reviewers tool is powered by Scopus and allows editors to search for potential reviewers, compile a list of candidates and then export that list to EES.

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In April 2014, an automated version of the tool was introduced. EES will now automatically send the keywords and authors associated with a submission to the Find Reviewers tool. Once compiled, editors can then export their list of reviewer candidates from the tool to EES at the click of a button. EES will check for matches within the journal’s EES database and, if none are found, allow editors to quickly proxy register the candidates they wish to invite as reviewers.

All of these new and enhanced features were introduced based on your feedback. We encourage you to continue letting us know how we can improve our products and services via the normal channel ( Or you can post your comment below. Your feedback is key in helping us continue to deliver the best submission and peer-review experience possible and also feeds development priorities for EVISE.

Author biography

Adrian Tedford

Following graduation from the University of Limerick, Adrian Tedford joined Elsevier in 1996. He was initially a Desk Editor before moving into an EES trainer role in 2001. Tedford took on management of the training team in 2004 before setting up the new Editorial Production Customer Support group in 2006. He was appointed General Manager of Services in the new Eddie organization in 2009; Eddie was set up to centralize management of all EES-related activities. In late 2012, Tedford moved into his current role as Director of Journal Editorial Services & Operations, adding journal production responsibilities in Spain, France and NL to his EES/EVISE brief. He continues to be based in Shannon, Ireland, but travels extensively.

Making research - EU44_CollectionTool_Hero

Making research easier and smarter with semantic publishing technologies

A common researcher complaint is that with so much published literature available, it can be difficult to locate relevant articles. Then there are concerns about evaluating papers, particularly due to the “use of different terms and definitions across sources and authors”. In this article, we will look at some of the technology we have available […]

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A common researcher complaint is that with so much published literature available, it can be difficult to locate relevant articles. Then there are concerns about evaluating papers, particularly due to the “use of different terms and definitions across sources and authors”.

In this article, we will look at some of the technology we have available to help, including our latest taxonomy EMMeT™. We also highlight the new Smart Collection Tool, which will make it possible to create topical collections of articles.

Using taxonomies to create some order in the information overload

Indexing journal articles to subject-specific taxonomies is a meaningful and controlled way to manage a body of knowledge. At Elsevier, we have developed our own proprietary taxonomies over many years, including the Engineering Index Thesaurus and our most recent initiative, EMMeT, the Elsevier Merged Medical Taxonomy. This latter ‘super-taxonomy’ creates greater value by integrating and expanding on existing, well-known taxonomies. It is managed by a team of clinical medicine informatics professionals who continue to tune the semantic engine and add new branches as medicine grows and expands.

Semantically enriching articles by text mining - and then mapping the concepts and entities described in the text to a hierarchical taxonomy - adds another layer of meaning to the raw article. This additional metadata can be used to tell computers and humans alike what the article is about, and how it relates to other content. The taxonomy can manage synonyms, abbreviations and variant spellings, which means that even if a researcher uses a search query that is not mentioned anywhere in the text, the article can be found if it is relevant to that query.

Adding value to articles by indexing to a taxonomy.

Putting semantically-enriched articles to work

Beyond improved search results, semantic metadata can be used to cluster articles by topic. This helps researchers click on a topic of interest and find all the articles indexed to that topic. Filters allow researchers to narrow the list down to sub topics, or adjacent topics.

Example of how users could navigate to articles by topic (note: illustrative only).

This type of topical navigation can save time and give researchers a quick overview of articles published in that topic area. The ability to further refine the list is important to hone in on the most relevant information. Elsevier is testing ways to let researchers select sub topic areas of interest and combine them to find articles on the crossover of disciplines, or in even more specific fields.

Creating topical collections of articles

Many journal editors have expressed a wish to present their journal articles online in ways other than by volume and issue. Although very important, the volume/issue navigation does not necessarily showcase the articles published in particular topic areas. Some topics are very timely, for example, the focus of a conference, or a new development in the field. Some are newsworthy. Some are particular strengths of a journal’s coverage. Elsevier has developed an editorial tool, called the Smart Collection Tool, which enables editors to quickly and easily define article collections for publication on journal websites. Currently, the Smart Collection Tool is available only for selected health and medical journal websites, but we are exploring its expansion to journals and websites in other areas.

Easy interface in the editorial ‘Smart Collection Tool’.

The Smart Collection Tool lets an editor search by ‘standard’ metadata fields such as full text, year, author and DOI, but in addition enables a search of articles indexed to concepts in taxonomies like EMMeT. The refinement possibilities are elegant and sophisticated, allowing an editor to expand a concept to select sub topics or related concepts, such as diseases that are treated by a particular procedure.

The tool helps editors define a very specific search query. Editors can set up the resulting article collection to either be automatically updated with any new article published that matches the query, or include a curation step to approve candidate articles for inclusion.

“We look forward to using the new collection tool for editors that Elsevier is planning,” said Dr. Craig Niederberger, Head of Urology at the University of Illinois, Co-Editor-in-Chief of Fertility & Sterility®, and Urological Survey Section Editor of The Journal of Urology®. “These semantic technologies are needed to assist editors in offering navigation and article collections organized around topics that are relevant to readers.”

Published topical collections help researchers quickly find the most relevant articles

Elsevier’s Health Advance journal websites are the first to deploy editorially-created collections from the Smart Collection Tool. Users are reporting that relevant articles are easier to find, and they can refer back to a collection page for new updates as well as set up an email alert.

Example of topical article collections live on the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology website.




ScienceDirect will soon offer access to the same collections, indicate when articles are part of one or more collections, and provide access to collection details. Again, we will start with EMMeT-indexed medical journals, while we explore how to extend the initiative to other subject domains.

Coming soon – Smart Collections on ScienceDirect.

We would like to hear your feedback on these developments, and your suggestions for other ways we can put semantic technologies to work for users. Please take a few moments to post your comments below.

Author biographies

Harriet Bell

Harriet Bell joined Elsevier in 1996, following graduation from the University of Oxford. Initially working in Marketing for publishing divisions in the Oxford office, she then moved to Amsterdam and was part of the team launching Scopus. After a short period working for digital advertising agencies and for Microsoft, Harriet rejoined Elsevier as Product Director for and then led product development for health journals. In her current role as Vice President of Journal & Data Solutions, she now leads the application of smart content technologies on Elsevier’s journal platforms from Elsevier’s London office.

Rolf Kwakkelaar

Rolf Kwakkelaar initially joined Elsevier in 1996. Working out of the Tokyo and Singapore offices, he was responsible for IT consultancy. Subsequent to that, he was with Endeavor Chicago, where his last position was Director of Digital Library Projects. After a four-year stint at the Singapore National Library Board, he rejoined Elsevier in 2012. Based in New York, he now leads the Content Innovation and Article of the Future activities for the STM Journals’ Health and Medical Sciences portfolio in his role as Content Innovation Manager.


Assessing subject and publication trends using SciVal

In this special issue, we’ve touched on how Scopus can support your editorial role. Now we turn the spotlight on another powerful source of research insights – Elsevier’s new generation SciVal. Using data from Scopus – the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature – SciVal offers quick, easy access to the research performance […]

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In this special issue, we’ve touched on how Scopus can support your editorial role. Now we turn the spotlight on another powerful source of research insights - Elsevier’s new generation SciVal.

Using data from Scopus - the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature - SciVal offers quick, easy access to the research performance of 220 nations and 4,600 research institutions worldwide. Metrics can be combined to benchmark an institution’s or a country’s productivity, citation impact, collaboration (and more). They can also help researchers understand their position relative to that of their peers, as well as global and domestic standards.

Together with your publisher, you can now use this research intelligence tool to craft the future strategy of your journal and inform potential expansion of your network in emerging fields of research.

Assessing subject -EU44_SciVal_Fig1

Figure 1: How SciVal can support you in your role.


With SciVal you can:

  • Analyze the growth, impact and trends of your specialty field. This can help to identify active institutions and authors, refine the aims and scope of your journal, or capture new special content (Special Issues and reviews).
  • Map a research field: what are the emerging competences of institutes and countries? Who are the rising stars in a particular topic?
  • Identify the need for new journals by combining various competences of countries and institutions to create new and multidisciplinary research areas.
  • Identify new potential collaborators, like board members and guest editors for hot topics.
  • Benchmark your journal against your research area, journals with a similar scope, institutions, or even countries of interest for your journal.

Journal of Hydrology

Executive Publisher for Water Management and Biological Resources, Dr. Christiane Barranguet, recently prepared a SciVal report for one of her editors, Laurent Charlet. Professor Charlet is co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Hydrology, which publishes original research papers and comprehensive reviews in all the subfields of the hydrological sciences.

Dr. Barranguet explained: “Hydrology is becoming more and more interdisciplinary and also more fragmented, hence its trends and developments have become more difficult to analyze. Nowadays, we see the traditional fields of hydrology (engineering, water geochemistry, soil science, geology and meteorology) integrated with such diverse disciplines as social sciences, economics, law, environmental sociology, psychology, epidemiology and behavioral science.

Assesing subject -EU44_SciVal_Fig2

Figure 2: The journal categories publishing in water resources and hydrology. Source: SciVal.

“The United Nations has declared 2014 the year of water and energy, and with three universities in Grenoble, France, merging into one larger entity (the University Grenoble Alps), we wanted to discover the salient facts and figures for research integrating both water and energy: where research is being done, how impactful it is, and which collaborations between international institutes are the most beneficial - both in the whole world and in France.

“Using SciVal, we confirmed that ‘water and energy’ is a growing research field, but we also saw the directions in which this emerging field is developing (Figure 3). By analyzing the most frequent keywords, we discovered that the field of water and energy research has different expertise areas in the world, France and France’s Université Joseph Fourier (Grenoble-1) in particular.”

Figure 3: Number of scientific publications (2009-2013) within the research field of water-energy. Source: SciVal.

She added: “We also noticed that water-energy research conducted at Université Joseph Fourier was very impactful in terms of citations, both at a global level, and normalized for the field.” (Figure 4)

Figure 4: Citations for water-energy publications on research conducted at Université Joseph Fourier. Included is a comparison with France, Europe and the world. Source: SciVal.

Professor Charlet, who is Professor of Water Biogeochemistry at the Université Joseph Fourier (Grenoble-1), said: “One of the interesting outcomes from the research was that the intersection of energy and water does not identify people working in hydrology or engineering, which is what we were expecting. Instead, two of the key researchers highlighted work in fundamental chemical biology (and specifically on understanding hydrogenase enzymes), both of whom I know personally.” (Figure 5)

Figure 5: Researchers at Université Joseph Fourier active in the field of water-energy. Source: SciVal.

Dr. Barranguet and Professor Charlet were able to conclude that:

  • The water-energy nexus is a growing interdisciplinary research field
  • The most impactful papers are published in broad scope prestigious journals
  • Highly-cited topics include innovative technologies, resource and energy efficient techniques, reuse, and sustainability
  • Collaborative research is the most impactful, and academic–corporate collaborations are highly cited
  • Research on the water-energy nexus conducted in France and at the Université Joseph Fourier is significantly more impactful than the world average on this topic
  • Bibliometric tools and the analysis of impact can highlight potentially beneficial collaborations within the topic

According to Dr. Barranguet, the information SciVal provides can not only support you in your role as an editor, but in your work as an academic too.

She said: “You can’t be a good editor unless you have a good understanding of your community and are in fluid contact with it. In a world of complex transdisciplinarity, research intelligence analysis can enhance scientists’ understanding of their disciplines. By examining which particular competences are emerging in a research field, who is working on what topic, and what the most impactful collaborations are, an editor can better anticipate developments and adapt the journal strategy to meet them.”

Professor Charlet intends to use the SciVal data to develop future Special Issues and explore collaboration opportunities. The data discussed here will be presented during the 2015 Grenoble Interdisciplinary Days, more information about which will appear shortly on the homepage of Journal of Hydrology.

Contributor biographies

Professor Laurent Charlet

Laurent Charlet is Professor of Water Biogeochemistry at the Université Joseph Fourier (Grenoble-I). His research group belongs to the Earth Science Institute (ISTerre). He is holder of the CNRS (The National Center for Scientific Research) Silver Medal for Excellence in Research and is Chancellor International Research Advisor. The aim of his research is to develop general methods for understanding the reactivity of trace elements and nanoparticles present in nature, and also in the human body, as a means of predicting biogeochemical processes that are relevant to environmental quality, sustainability, paleoenvironment reconstruction and risk assessment. Recently he developed different collaborative projects on ‘medical geochemistry’ studying the effect of nanoparticles, metals & metalloids speciation on DNA double-strand breaks, whether non-repaired or mis-repaired, with respect to (nano)toxicity and carcinogenesis.

Dr. Christiane Barranguet

Dr. Christiane Barranguet, PhD, studied oceanography in Uruguay where she completed her MSc at the Universidad de la República. Subsequently, she was awarded a grant from the French Minister of Education and moved to Marseille, where she completed a DEA and a PhD in oceanography (1994). After graduation, Christiane worked at the two major institutes for marine research in The Netherlands (NIOO and NIOZ) as a postdoc, and later on at the University of Amsterdam, where besides her research work she mentored MSc, PhD and postdoctoral students. Dr. Barranguet has published over 30 scientific publications in international journals. In 2004, she left academia to manage the Aquatic Sciences portfolio at Elsevier as Publishing Editor, being promoted to Publisher in 2006. Presently, she occupies the position of Executive Publisher, shaping the publication policy of water research, comprising the top international scientific journals.


How to generate journal insights using visualization techniques

Editors and publishers are always curious to learn how their journal is performing compared to others in the field. They are also keen to discover whether the content they are publishing is attracting citations. In this piece, we would like to share with you a number of visualization techniques that can help to generate insights […]

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Editors and publishers are always curious to learn how their journal is performing compared to others in the field. They are also keen to discover whether the content they are publishing is attracting citations. In this piece, we would like to share with you a number of visualization techniques that can help to generate insights into journal performance.


Term mapping

How can you determine what the ‘hot’ topics are in a specific journal, group of journals or subject area? Or, more specifically, which topics have shown active growth and strong impact in research output (published articles) in recent years? To answer this question, we developed a new visualization tool in collaboration with the CWTS research group, which specializes in bibliometrics at the University of Leiden. The tool has access to all journals and conference proceedings indexed in Scopus. Drawing on this information, it can generate maps revealing the relationships between terms used in titles and abstracts of articles published in one or more selected journals. It does this with the help of a computer program called VOSviewer (1).

How is a term map created?

There are a number of steps involved in producing a term map.

      • First we need to determine which journal or journals should be included. If a group of journals or a subject area is the focus of the analysis, a keyword search in Scopus can help with this.
      • Once the journal(s) have been chosen, the tool performs an analysis of the words and phrases found in the titles and abstracts of articles over a specified period of time (e.g. within the last two, five or 10 years). The publication and citation windows can have separate values, so that it’s also possible to determine how well content published in a specific year has been cited in the years since publication.
      • After a map is generated, it can be checked for uninformative terms, such as publisher or society names, and generic terms such as “literature”, “presentation”, or “feature”. These can be removed and, if needed, a new version of the map can be created.

Clusters of co-occurring terms

The map shown in Figure 1 is known as a co-occurrence cluster map. Every term that occurs at least five times in the titles and abstracts of articles in the selected journals is represented by an individual node on the map. The larger the node, the more articles contain the term and the smaller the space between the terms, the more often they tend to co-occur. However, it is important to note that this is a 2D representation of a multi-dimensional network, so the proximity of terms cannot perfectly reflect the relationship in all cases. Finally, the terms are colored into clusters of terms that tend to co-occur.

        The map in Figure 1 was generated for a group of six selected Nursing journals, and is based on roughly 1,900 articles and reviews published in these journals from 2009 to 2012. The map clearly contains four main clusters of co-occurring terms:

        • Green (middle and top left) related to statistics and experiments;
        • red cluster (right-hand side) related to nursing education;
        • blue cluster (bottom left) related to surgery; and
        • yellow cluster (left) related to clinical trials and literature reviews.

Field expertise can help appropriately check and name the clusters, as well as predict which clusters are likely to contain the most highly-cited content, and why.

How to journal - Term Map Figure 1

Figure 1 - Journal term co-occurrence cluster similarity map for a group of six selected Nursing journals from 2009-2012. Source: Scopus.

Highly-cited terms

The next step in determining hot topics in the field is to check which terms are relatively well cited in comparison to the rest of the content published in the journal(s). This can be done by changing the coloring in the cluster map to show the average citation impact of the articles containing that term, relative to the average citation impact (1.00) of all articles included in the map (Figure 2). As older publications have had more time to be cited, the citations are normalized by year of publication to make a fair comparison possible. In Figure 2, terms with above average citation impact are colored red, terms with average citation impact are green and terms with below average citation impact are shown in blue.

How to journal - Term Map Figure 2

Figure 2 - Journal term co-occurrence citation impact map for a group of six selected Nursing journals from 2009-2012. Source: Scopus

We can clearly see that the relatively highly-cited terms tend to occur to the left of the map. These are terms found mainly in the yellow and green clusters in Figure 1, related to experiments (green) and clinical trials (yellow). Highly-cited terms in these areas include:

        • Nurse staffing, self-esteem and statistical terms (green cluster, top left).
        • Depressive symptoms, meta-analysis, pregnancy and controlled trials (yellow cluster, left-hand side).

Hot topics?

Finally, a Scopus keyword search can be performed for the terms in the map with the highest relative citation impact, to determine if these were isolated occurrences. The outcome of this keyword search, restricted to the Nursing field, confirmed that there were at least four areas in this analysis which had a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 5 percent, which indicates that there was an above average increase in the number of papers published in these areas over the past five years, as the average CAGR is 3–5 percent (see Table 1).

How to journal - table

Table 1 – In Figure 2, relatively highly-cited terms were identified. In this table we list the number of papers to feature those terms alongside their compound annual growth rates. Source: Scopus

The Scopus keyword search confirmed that the topics suggested by the map were indeed topics that have been attracting attention in the field. Although this specific map at field level is somewhat generic, it does provide a general idea of where to look for hot topics in more detail.

One editor’s experiences

Dr. Paul H. Gobster is a Research Social Scientist for the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service. He has just stepped down after four years as co-Editor-in-Chief of Elsevier’s Landscape and Urban Planning, remaining on the journal’s Board as Associate Editor. He and his colleagues used term maps to aid the development of an editorial for the journal’s 40th anniversary (2).

Dr. Gobster said: “We identified important concepts and themes represented in its published content and developed a time-series of four maps to qualitatively describe changes across each successive decade.

“The term maps were relatively easy to interpret and produced visualizations that were suitable for presentation to readers within our editorial. I believe the term maps have additional value for journal administrative and strategic planning functions — the clustering can help to clarify thematic content for manuscript classification and assignment of submissions to Associate Editors, and the clusters and specific terms (their presence, positions, and any changes over time) may help to identify enduring and emerging subthemes of work.”

The benefits of journal mapping

While term maps are used to highlight the topics published within a journal or discipline, journal mapping can be used to examine a journal’s position and scope and its interactions with other journals in the field. As with term maps, Scopus can provide the source data, ensuring the analysis draws on all indexed journals.

These journal maps are formed using citation links. A citation from a paper published in one journal to a paper published in another establishes that their respective contents are relevant to each other, and suggests a level of similarity between the two. In any given time period, a journal tends to contain citations to many other journals, and those it cites the most should be the journals with which it is most closely related. For instance, if Journal A provides many citations to Journal B and only a few to Journal C, this is a sign that it has a stronger connection to Journal B. If over time the balance shifts so that it begins to provide more citations to Journal C, this indicates that the scope of the journals or structure of the field is changing and it is becoming progressively more related to Journal C. When the citation links are built up over many more journals than in this simplified example, a map is a convenient way to display the links and see how journals interact to form larger groups.

See Figure 3 for an example of a journal map based upon the same six Nursing journals used in the term maps examples above.

how to journal - Journal Map Figure 3

Figure 3 - Journal map based on a group of six selected Nursing journals from 2009-2012.

Each journal on the map is displayed as a node (circle), with size determined by the average citations to that journal's papers in the time period. You can see in Figure 3 that the general Medicine journals included in the map have far higher average citation impact than the other journals. The selected journals are in blue and all fall into the region of core Nursing journals, while other journals are in grey and included because of their citation links to these seed journals. Citation relationships are shown as edges (lines) of varying thickness. These citation relationships are normalized by the number of citations received by the cited journal and by the number of citations given by the citing journal. The thicker the line, the higher the proportion of citations represented.

In this example map, key areas of different health science specialties have been labelled based on the journal groups. This allows you to see the links between broader specialties as well as individual journals. These groupings will tend to be fairly stable, but comparing maps based on different time periods allows you to identify newly-emerging journals in a given area or the changing research relationships that lead one topic area to become more relevant to another over time.

The citation environment in which a journal sits is unique and dynamic, and analysis of this can be used as an objective means for determining the competitive position of an established journal in a research field.

Using the maps to support your work

Both term mapping and journal mapping can help to benchmark the journal against competitors and provide useful insights for editorial board meetings. While a few strategic reasons for using these analytical tools have been suggested in the text above, their real advantage lies in how adaptable they are to different research questions. If you would like to know more about how these tools can help you, or other analytical tools to provide insight into the position of your journal, please contact your publisher.


(1) Van Eck, N.J., & Waltman, L. (2010) “Software survey: VOSviewer, a computer program for bibliometric mapping”, Scientometrics, Vol 84, No. 2, pp. 523–538.

(2) Gobster, P.H. (2014) “(Text) Mining the LANDscape: Themes and trends over 40 years of Landscape and Urban Planning”, Landscape and Urban Planning, Vol 126, pp. 21–30.

Author biographies

How to journal - DaphneVanWeijen

Dr. Daphne van Weijen

Dr. Daphne van Weijen, PhD, joined Elsevier’s Research & Academic Relations department in 2012. Part of her role as a Publishing Information Manager is to advise publishers and editors on ways to improve the success and quality of their journals, using bibliographic data and visualization techniques. Daphne has a background in Sociolinguistics and Language Teaching, and completed her PhD research on First and Second Language Writing Processes at Utrecht University in 2009.

How to journal - MatthewRichardson

Matthew Richardson

Matthew Richardson works within Elsevier’s Research & Academic Relations department as a Publishing Information Manager. He studies scientific research through the lenses of publication and citation trends, with a focus on the information flows that construct and change research disciplines. His particular focus is on visualizing networks of scientific publications and fields, to enable a deeper understanding of how journals and disciplines relate to one another. Matthew completed a Master’s Degree in Writing from the University of Warwick, UK, before joining Elsevier’s Oxford office in 2010.

Zakelijk Portret

Guest Editorial: Olivier Dumon, MD of Research Applications & Platforms

We appreciate how challenging the role of an editor can be; the continuous flow of papers many journals receive can result in a queue of manuscripts awaiting review. First, there’s the plagiarism check against the rapidly expanding body of research available; then, for increasingly interdisciplinary fields where research often stems from international collaboration, questions such […]

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We appreciate how challenging the role of an editor can be; the continuous flow of papers many journals receive can result in a queue of manuscripts awaiting review. First, there’s the plagiarism check against the rapidly expanding body of research available; then, for increasingly interdisciplinary fields where research often stems from international collaboration, questions such as “how incremental or significant is the research to my field?” and “who are the best reviewers?” are becoming harder to answer. The information that individual editors use to evaluate manuscripts across the thousands of academic journals can be as varied and complex as snowflakes. Oh, and what do you do with the experimental data that the author wanted to submit…?

How can we at Elsevier help? Well, we can bring together data from existing platforms such as EES, ScienceDirect, Scopus, and Mendeley to create new features leveraging search, aggregation and advanced recommender technologies, supported by our powerful HPCC supercomputer. A prime example of this is the recent upgrade to the Find a Reviewer tool in EES, powered by Scopus.

In this edition of Editors' Update, you will also hear about the next generation of SciVal and the 'term' or journal maps you can use to inform your future journal strategy – both these initiatives also look to Scopus for their data. And we link to data contained in non-Elsevier databases, for example, we recently announced the integration of CrossCheck's plagiarism software into EES, ensuring articles are automatically uploaded to iThenticate at the submission stage. We know how important it is to you and your authors to make the evaluation process faster; the initiatives outlined here are all important steps towards our goal of creating substantial efficiencies in the editorial workflow. Our aim is simple – to provide you with a toolbox, so that you can select which tools work best for you.

These are not just aspirations – we are working hard to make them a reality. We are changing how we build products and features; we are consulting editors throughout the development process, being more iterative in how we build and, more importantly, checking at each stage that what we are building is of value to you. We’re also continuing to develop competencies in online and analytics skills and are enhancing them through ongoing collaborations such as the Big Data Institute with University College London (UCL), which oversees research projects between our product teams and leading researchers in UCL in the area of big data and analytics. And we can go further…

…but first, let's go back to your role as an editor for a moment…

We realize that what is important to you is your real passion; your role at your institute, university or hospital. However, having reviewed incoming manuscripts, there is work to be done on the paper you are about to publish, the two peer-review requests for other journals sitting on your desk, and the grant funding application that needs finishing. The good news is that we can also support you with some of these activities. We can help authors find the best home for their research with our intuitive – and recently upgraded – Journal Finder tool and we can help them understand the impact of their published work through Scopus citations, downloads on ScienceDirect and altmetrics pilots. We can also now showcase their impact on their community via Mendeley.

However, in this issue we are focused on editors and I am excited to share with you some of the innovative things that we are working on to not only help you determine the future of your journal, but to streamline the editorial process so you can choose to spend your time where it matters most.


Mobile-friendly Editors’ Choice website allows you to share ‘Top 5’ articles

No one is more familiar with a journal’s content than the editor – you have often curated each manuscript from arrival to acceptance. On the new Editors’ Choice website, you can now highlight the five most interesting, novel or important papers that have featured in your journal over the past 12 months, alongside an explanation […]

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No one is more familiar with a journal's content than the editor – you have often curated each manuscript from arrival to acceptance.

On the new Editors' Choice website, you can now highlight the five most interesting, novel or important papers that have featured in your journal over the past 12 months, alongside an explanation about why you have recommended them.

The website marks a new direction for Editors' Choice, which began as an app for conference attendees in 2012. Editors whose journals were being exhibited at an upcoming event were invited to choose five articles they wanted to share with the researchers attending. They were also asked to provide a short explanation about why they had chosen those particular papers. Each selection was accompanied by a photo and bio of the editor in question. Conference attendees could download the app to access the information.

The Editors’ Choice website

What's changing?

Because of the app's popularity, the program is now evolving. The information will no longer be delivered via an app but via a mobile website. Also, it won't only be journals exhibited at upcoming events that will be featured; editors of all Elsevier journals will be given the opportunity to showcase five of their journal's articles per year. Not only will the articles be highlighted on the mobile website, they will also appear on the journal homepage on, subject webpages on, and relevant Elsevier social media channels. They will also be promoted at exhibitions relevant for that journal.

The articles will be freely accessible to all readers.

ElsevierConnectLogo_smallThis article first appeared in Elsevier Connect, an online magazine and resource center for the science and health communities with a broad and active social media community. It features daily articles written by experts in the field as well as Elsevier colleagues.

 How Editors' Choice started

Liz Holmes

Liz Holmes

Liz Holmes, Global Project Manager in Elsevier's Marketing Communications and Researcher Engagement department, is behind the project.

Several years ago, as a marketing communications manager, she was responsible for shipping boxes of sample copies of her journals to events. However, her editors wanted the opportunity to highlight particular articles, so she created ring binders containing the relevant article PDFs with the words 'Editors' Choice' printed clearly on the front cover.

"I noticed people were choosing to take the ring binder away with them, even though it was a lot heavier than the sample copies," Holmes said. "Knowing that the articles had been personally chosen by the editor was clearly important to them."

With the publishing industry increasingly favoring digital delivery of information over the traditional print format, she realized there may be an opportunity for 'Editors' Choice' to follow suit.

Holmes said the new set-up will be user friendly while helping editors share important articles.

“The mobile website and the dedicated pods on each journal homepage will make the articles clearly visible to visitors. The website has been crafted to provide an optimal viewing experience – easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling – across a wide range of devices, from mobile phones to desktop computer monitors.

“Equally importantly, authors will be notified that their article has been chosen and they will be encouraged to spread the news through their social media channels.”

What's next?

One of the next steps will be to show the impact that social media promotion by Elsevier – and the article author – has had on the Editors' Choice article.

At the point editors submit their chosen articles, they are asked for their feedback on the process. Of those who have responded so far, nearly 70 percent have said they feel “very positive” about the initiative.

If you have any suggestions for improvements, please email You are also welcome to post a comment below.

Liz Holmes was interviewed by Linda Willems, Editor-in-Chief, Editors' Update


Pilot allows authors to make submitted abstracts instantly visible

UPDATE 11.03.14:  Since this article was written, further Elsevier journals have joined the submitted abstracts pilot. They are: European Economic Review Surface Science (including Surface Science Letters) Reproductive BioMedicine Online Journal of Virological Methods To the editors of Atmospheric Environment, ensuring their readers could access research at the earliest possible stage was a top priority. So, […]

Read more >

UPDATE 11.03.14:  Since this article was written, further Elsevier journals have joined the submitted abstracts pilot. They are:

To the editors of Atmospheric Environment, ensuring their readers could access research at the earliest possible stage was a top priority.

So, together with their Publishing Director, Bethan Keall, they found a novel solution – publishing the abstracts of recently submitted papers on the journal’s homepage.

Dr. Hanwant Singh

Dr. Hanwant Singh

Atmospheric Environment’s co-Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Hanwant Singh, explained: “We knew that early transparency was something our readers really value – embarking on this pilot provided us with an excellent opportunity to ensure they receive it.”

According to Keall, the pilot reflects a broader move towards transparency within publishing. She believes the benefits of the pilot are manifold. “Not only do readers get to see research at an earlier stage, they get a feeling for new work on the horizon and can even benchmark their work against the featured abstracts. Potential authors can also better gauge the range and scope of the journal and assess if the journal is the right home for their research,” she said.

It is clear readers are embracing the initiative – since the pilot was launched in March last year, the recently submitted abstracts pod has consistently proved the most popular on Atmospheric Environment’s homepage.

The trial, which is operated on an ‘opt-in’ basis, is also proving popular with authors – in the last 10 months, 50 percent of the 2,549 authors who have submitted a paper to the journal have chosen to participate.


A full list of abstracts recently submitted to the journal can be reached via a pod on Atmospheric Environment's homepage.


Dr. Singh, who leads a group of atmospheric scientists at the NASA Ames Research Center, said: “We have been offering this option for less than a year so that is quite a high opt-in rate. My hunch is that as word continues to spread, that figure will rise.”

Keall added: “It was very important to us that the project is driven by author choice – while many authors appreciate the opportunity to give their research greater visibility, there are always going to be occasions when research is just too novel or groundbreaking to be featured in this way.”

Keall regularly surveys authors using the RSS feed and recent feedback led to the corresponding author’s email address being featured alongside the abstract.

Dr. Singh said: “This is a really valuable addition and facilitates early interaction among researchers.”

How ‘Recently Submitted Abstracts’ works

As illustrated in the screenshot below, at the point of submission to Atmospheric Environment, authors are invited to choose whether they would like their abstract to be included – if they tick yes, an RSS feed picks up information exported from the Elsevier Editorial System (EES) and the abstract is included in a dedicated pod on Atmospheric Environment’s homepage. Articles rejected after the point of submission or peer review are removed from the RSS feed. Those that are accepted are transferred to appear as Articles in Press on ScienceDirect.


Dr. Singh would be happy to see the initiative rolled out to other journals. He added: “Long ago, journals used to send out a table of contents that contained the titles of published articles. That didn’t provide you with enough information to understand what the paper contained. This is a big step forward.”

Bethan Keall

Keall is also looking into further expanding the service offered by the pilot. She said: “We currently offer researchers the opportunity to sign up for ScienceDirect text alerts, notifying them of any new, relevant content that is published. These help them be one of the first to hear about new developments. It would be interesting to see if we could offer that service for this pilot.”

In a recent edition of Elsevier’s Authors’ Update, readers were asked if they would like to see this rolled out to journals in their field – 80 percent of respondents said they would.

If you are interested in offering this for your journal, please contact Keall at 

Bethan Keall and Dr. Hanwant Singh were interviewed by Linda Willems, Editor-in-Chief, Editors' Update.



Targeting the next generation of editors in Asia

With the number of submissions from Asia continuing to rise, the importance of ensuring the make-up of journal editorial boards reflects that shift has never been greater. However, recruiting a suitable Asia-based editor may not be as simple as it sounds – identifying the right person to approach, concerns over time differences and communication, and […]

Read more >

With the number of submissions from Asia continuing to rise, the importance of ensuring the make-up of journal editorial boards reflects that shift has never been greater.

However, recruiting a suitable Asia-based editor may not be as simple as it sounds – identifying the right person to approach, concerns over time differences and communication, and uncertainly over the correct cultural procedures can all prove stumbling blocks.

Deborah Logan

Deborah Logan

One publishing group in Elsevier has come up with a novel approach – the Materials Science team, led by Publishing Director Deborah Logan, is trialing a series of Future Editors’ seminars. With the aim of ‘identifying new editors and engaging with the community’ the team recently held their first event in Beijing, China. The 65 attendees comprised leading young materials scientists and society contacts. Together, attendees represented seven countries or regions and more than 60 different institutes in Asia.

Logan, who is based in Elsevier’s Oxford office, explained: “Attendance was by invitation only, and the delegates were selected from nominations by institutes, key societies and partnership journals in the region. Experienced editors also recommended their top authors and reviewers and that was the key to success in all of this; it gave us an opportunity to work together with our existing partners in the region to identify future decision-makers on the journals that matter to them.”


Attendees and presenters at the first Future Editors' seminar held in Beijing last year.

The anatomy of a Future Editors’ seminar

  • A one-day seminar was held in Beijing on October 18, 2013.
  • Invitations were sent to young and promising materials scientists in Asia who have both the interest and potential to become future editors on Elsevier journals.
  • The seminar adopted a plenary style, featuring eight talks delivered by well-known senior scientists, experienced editors and publishing professionals.
  • Topics covered included:
    • What Makes a Great Editor of the Future? A Publisher’s View
    • The Role of Journal Editors in Advancing Science
    • Challenges of Publishing and Editing

Logan believes there is a strong need for this kind of approach in the Materials Science field, which has undergone rapid expansion in recent years. She said: “Asia currently yields around 57 percent of our area’s overall submissions, and yet our editorial contacts from this region only make up 22 percent of our global network. In China, the situation is even more acute; this is a country that produces about 28 percent of our total published content in Materials Science journals, yet only seven percent of our editors are from there. The issue is not one of willingness to serve – in fact, our research shows that, of any nation, Chinese researchers are the most willing to serve as reviewers and editors."

Tingting Zou

Tingting Zou

Materials Science publisher, Tingting Zou, who is based in Beijing and worked closely with Logan on the seminar, added: “Journals are facing more and more pressure with the increase in submissions from Asia. Meanwhile, current editorial boards are experiencing difficulties finding suitable reviewers and editorial candidates in the region to tackle the challenge. We believe these seminars will help.”

According to Logan, Elsevier considers the event a success with 32 potential new trainee editors identified.

It was clear from responses to a post-event survey that attendees also found the initiative useful: 90 percent agreed or strongly agreed they had the opportunity to exchange views with other materials researchers; meet journal editors; let Elsevier know their views; and network. Overall, all delegates agreed or strongly agreed that they were ‘very satisfied with the conference’. One commented: “…the talks were helpful for anyone like me who would like to be involved in editorial work in future.” While another appreciated the fact that it was “a great opportunity to learn the roles of an editor and talk with people from different parts of Asia”.

An event highlight for many of the delegates proved to be the experiences shared by the senior editors who presented. Some attendees described these talks as “deeply moving”.

Dr. T G Nieh

Dr. T G Nieh

EU42_FutureEds_NiehCoverOne of these presenters was Dr. T G Nieh, Editor-in-Chief of Intermetallics and Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Tennessee. With more than 400 journal publications in materials-related areas, he has been listed as one of the ISI’s most cited material scientists since 2003.

Reflecting on the event, Dr. Nieh, whose talk was entitled ‘Progression from a reader, author, reviewer to editor’ said: “I was one of several Asian and Asian-American editors who candidly shared their experiences – the joy of reading the first-hand research results and interacting with dedicated reviewers, and the agony of meeting various publishing timelines and responding to unappreciated authors.

“There is clearly a language gap when an Asian writer is trying to express a scientific concept using English language for writing and publication. This gap arises naturally from the intrinsic differences in culture and education. An Asian editor is in a better position to bridge that gap. In addition to questions raised during the presentation, speakers and attendees engaged in discussions about editing in the breaks – most were on time management and the editor-reviewer-author interactions. I discovered there was a general misconception that editors only collect papers so the role does not require much technical skill.”

He added: “The information provided at the seminar helped young scientists appreciate the work of an editor and it is encouraging to learn that several attendees have expressed an interest in serving on Elsevier journal editorial boards. I think the workshop was a worthy investment.”

Dr. Min Wang

Dr. Min Wang


Another of the presenters, Dr. Min Wang, a Professor at The University of Hong Kong’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Editor of Materials Letters, described the opportunity to give his talk on ‘Publishing in a Reputable International Journal – Through the Eyes of a Reviewer and Editor’ as a “privilege”. He said: “To those aspiring to be journal editors, it is important to show the processes involved and the event was very successful in achieving its goal. I really feel it was a privilege to give a talk to such a talented audience, sharing with them some of my personal experiences, observations and thoughts on paper reviewing and journal editing. I also feel I benefited greatly from taking part in this event; by listening to other speakers’ talks and by interacting with young researchers of great promise. I would recommend that Elsevier organizes this type of event more often and in different places.”

The next seminar is penciled in for the Materials Today Asia Conference in 2014/2015. Other Elsevier divisions are also monitoring the success of the initiative closely.

Closing the gap

Back in Issue 33 of Editors' Update (September 2011), we focused on boosting Asian membership of editorial boards in an Asia Special edition of Editors’ Update. In Recruiting an Asia-based Editor. Case Study: The Lancet, we heard from the journal’s Dr. Helena Wang and Dr. Maja Zecevic about points to consider when incorporating an Asia-based editor into the team.

Elsevier’s David Clark, now Senior Vice President Life Sciences, also touched on the importance of multi-cultural editorial boards in Meeting the Challenge of a Global Academic Community. He said: “This gap needs to be addressed, not for reasons of political correctness, but because of the practical advantages. It eases the burden on traditional academic communities and it offers access to good new people coming up through the system. Just look at the high standard of work already coming out of some institutes in China.

“Many journals have already appointed editors in Asia and there are clear benefits for doing so. For example, the editors we do have from China do seem to accept, on average, better-cited papers than those from other countries. That suggests they do a good job and my own experience supports that.”

He also outlined practical tips for recruitment.

The growth of research in China

Materials Science is not the only field experiencing a rise in papers from Asia and the Middle East – the number of submissions has seen strong growth across the board in recent years. While in 1996, these countries collectively published fewer than 200,000 papers, in 2012, close to 900,000 papers from the region were published. Year on year growth of scholarly output (Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR)) was high at more than 10 percent, and even higher in the last 10 years at nearly 13 percent (data source: Scopus).

This increase has been driven in particular by the explosion of publications from China (see figure 1): in 1996, China published fewer than 33,000 scholarly papers; in 2012, this grew to over 400,000 papers – an impressive CAGR of 20 percent over the past 10 years. 

Figure 1

Figure 1: Number of scholarly papers with at least one Chinese author (data source: SciVal)

It is not only the number of publications from China that is increasing – we are also seeing the impact of those papers grow (see figure 2). Field-Weighted Citation Impact (FWCI) is a measure of average number of citations per paper normalized against the expected citation rates for publications in the same field. While China is still significantly under the world average of 1, it has recently grown in FWCI from 0.68 in 2008 to 0.73 in 2012.

Figure 1

Figure 2: Field-Weighted Citation Impact of papers with at least one Chinese author (source: SciVal).

China’s scholarly output is heavily dominated by the Physical Sciences (see figure 3), which together account for two thirds of the papers published in 2008-2012 that had at least one author with a Chinese affiliation. Materials Science alone accounts for nine percent of the country’s scholarly output over that period.

Figure 1

Figure 3: Subject area breakdown of Chinese papers published (source: SciVal).


Contributor bio

Mike Taylor

Sarah Huggett

Sarah Huggett
As part of the Scientometrics & Market Analysis team in Research & Academic Relations at Elsevier, Sarah Huggett provides strategic and tactical insights to colleagues and publishing partners, and strives to inform the research evaluation debate through various internal and external discussions. Her specific interests are in communication and the use of alternative metrics for evaluating impact. After completing an M.Phil in English Literature at the University of Grenoble (France), including one year at the University of Reading (UK) through the Erasmus programme, she moved to the UK to teach French at University of Oxford. She joined Elsevier in 2006 and the Research Trends editorial board in 2009.

Huggett contributed the section 'The Growth of Research in China'. Interviews were conducted by Linda Willems, Editor-in-Chief, Editors' Update.



How we can better support and recognize reviewers

We know that finding, retaining and rewarding reviewers are long-term pain points for editors. Scientists are increasingly busy and often find it difficult to free up time to do reviews. At the same time, new approaches to peer review are being developed, for example, working in a more open and collaborative manner or making use […]

Read more >

We know that finding, retaining and rewarding reviewers are long-term pain points for editors. Scientists are increasingly busy and often find it difficult to free up time to do reviews. At the same time, new approaches to peer review are being developed, for example, working in a more open and collaborative manner or making use of the latest technology. That makes these times challenging, as well as exciting, and this is reflected in the enthusiasm and energy with which new experiments are being launched within our organization.

My team is behind a number of these peer-review pilots and our decision to carry them out in an experimental setting, i.e. test the concepts with a limited number of journals, is deliberate. It means we can learn quickly and be flexible. If a pilot proves unsuccessful, we can swiftly shift our attention to other areas. However, if the results are encouraging, we can upscale and roll it out to more journal titles. Below I outline a few of the pilots currently taking place.

New platform will provide reviewer rewards

This experiment looks at addressing the need of reviewers to be better recognized for their work. Reviewers indicate that they like to review manuscripts; they feel it is an important service to their communities and it keeps them abreast of the latest developments. At the same time, we know they often feel that they are not fully recognized for their work. 

Simon Gosling

Simon Gosling

With this in mind, Elsevier set up a Peer Review Challenge in 2012. We asked entrants to submit an original idea that would significantly improve or add to the current peer-review process. The winner was Simon Gosling, a Lecturer in Climate Change and Hydrology at The University of Nottingham. He proposed the creation of a ‘reviewer badges and rewards scheme’ as an incentive for reviewers. Elsevier has since been working with him to implement his vision and, in early February, we began piloting a digital badge system with a selection of journals in our Energy portfolio. Via Mozilla OpenBadges, reviewers are issued with badges that they can display on their Twitter, Facebook and Google+ pages.

A second phase of the pilot is due to be launched this month - a ‘reviewer recognition’ platform for approximately 40 journals. Upon completion of a review for one of these titles, reviewers are provided with a link to a personal page on the platform that displays their reviewer activity. Based on their contributions to the journal, they are appointed statuses – for example, ‘recognized reviewer’ for those completing one review within two years, and ‘outstanding reviewer’ for those that have completed the most reviews. They are also able to download certificates based on their achievements and discount vouchers. We hope the platform will make the important work of reviewers more visible and encourage them to engage with Elsevier journals. Following the pilot, our aim is to make the platform available to all Elsevier titles.

We are continuously looking at how we can increase the visibility of the contribution made by reviewers; in another pilot, the journal Agricultural and Forest Meteorology has been making its review reports accessible on ScienceDirect. We now want to extend the experiment to more journals and see if we can provide the reports with DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers). In this way, the reports will be better acknowledged as an essential part of the scientific literature.

ScienceDirect visitors to articles from the journal Agricultural and Forest Meteorology can download the reviewer reports in the right hand bar.


Article Transfer Service for soil science journals

As an editor, you may frequently be confronted with manuscripts that are out of scope or are simply not suitable for the journal; however, they still contain sound research. For some time now, we have been offering the complementary Article Transfer Service (ATS), which is currently active for more than 300 of our journals. ATS allows editors to recommend that authors transfer their submitted papers – and any accompanying reviews – to another Elsevier journal in the field, without the need to reformat them.

A new experiment with six Elsevier soil science journals aims to improve on this service. If participating editors decide not to accept a paper, they can now choose from two important options in Elsevier’s Editorial System (EES):

    • They can choose a new option, ‘decline’, which means the paper is not suitable for their title. If this option is chosen, the author will always have the option to transfer the article, with the review reports, to another journal.
    • They can decide to ‘reject’ the paper. If they choose this option, the author will not be invited to submit to any other journal in the pilot.

Gilles Jonker, Executive Publisher for soil science, explained: “The editors of these journals were confronted with a strong growth in submitted articles and found it increasingly difficult to find reviewers. To help address these issues, an agreement was reached to harmonize the editorial policies of the six journals, honor another editor’s decision to reject a paper, as well as give authors more autonomy in finding an alternative journal.”

Early pilot results show a good uptake by editors of the ‘decline’ decision option. Authors are also embracing the concept and are accepting transfers to journals within the cluster that better fit the scope of their articles. “Later this year we should be able to see whether this pilot study has indeed addressed reviewer fatigue and improved the quality of submitted articles,” said Jonker.

Experimenting with the peer-review process via Mendeley

MendeleyLogo_150x150Last, but not least, Elsevier is exploring ways in which Mendeley can be used to improve the peer-review process. Mendeley, a London-based company that operates a global research management and collaboration platform, was acquired by Elsevier in April 2013. Researchers worldwide use Mendeley’s desktop and cloud-based tools to manage and annotate documents, create citations and bibliographies, collaborate on research projects and network with fellow academics. These advanced collaborative features could benefit the peer-review process. Manuscripts can be annotated online, and these annotations can be shared in private groups. Moreover, editors and reviewers can discuss manuscripts in discussion forums. We are curious to see whether peer review within this environment will streamline the peer-review process, increase its efficiency and, in the end, lead to a better manuscript review. As part of this experiment, papers will be brought within the Mendeley environment - naturally only with the consent of the reviewers and editors. This pilot began with a few titles earlier this year. If it proves successful we will look to make it more widely available.

If you have any comments or suggestions for new peer-review pilots, I would really like to hear from you. You can contact me at

Author biography

Dr. Joris van Rossum

Dr. Joris van Rossum

Dr. Joris van Rossum
For the past 12 years, van Rossum has been involved in the launch and development of products and initiatives within Elsevier. From its inception he worked as a Product Manager on Scopus, the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature, and he worked on Elsevier’s search engine for scientific information as Head of Scirus. Later, he developed the Elsevier WebShop, which offers support and services for authors at many stages of the publication workflow. In his current role, van Rossum is focused on testing and introducing important innovations with a focus on peer review. He holds a master’s of science in biology from the University of Amsterdam, and a PhD in philosophy from VU University Amsterdam


Research Highlights app makes it easy to keep tabs on new research

New app allows researchers to create a personalized feed of articles based on keywords, journals, and authors

Read more >

David Allen | End User Marketing, IPD, Elsevier

A new free app, Research Highlights, has been developed to keep researchers up to date with new papers published in their field.

It harnesses the power of Scopus to let researchers track their critical search terms across 20,000+ peer-reviewed journals from hundreds of publishers.

Users can check author-written bulleted highlights and/or the abstract to determine which articles to read in full. Those they select will be sent to their inbox. Content licenses will also be recognized. 

ResearchHighlightsWhile it may be fine to scan article lists and read a few bullets or a short abstract on the small screen of a mobile device, lengthy full-text articles are not easy to consume that way. The Research Highlights app recognizes which parts of the literature search can be comfortably carried out on a mobile device and which parts are more easily performed elsewhere.

We encourage you to try out the app. If you like it, please do tweet about it and recommend it to colleagues and readers.


University College London and Elsevier launch UCL Big Data Institute

Collaboration will enable researchers to explore ideas for applying new technologies and analytics to scholarly content and data.

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Iris Kisjes | Senior Corporate Relations Manager, Elsevier

A new innovation hub will tackle the challenges researchers face as they seek to forecast trends, synthesize information from thousands of research papers, and show the potential societal impact of their research so it will be eligible for funding.

University College London and Elsevier are establishing the UCL Big Data Institute, a collaboration to empower researchers to explore innovative ways to apply new technologies and analytics to scholarly content and data.

Elsevier believes that linking analytics and scientific content is one of the key ways to better serve scientists; the company will fund research through the Institute related to the analysis, use and storage of big data.

The Institute will build on Elsevier's acquisition of Mendeley, which operates a global research management and collaboration platform from the heart of east London's tech start-up community, and Elsevier's recent investment into building a London-based world-class web analytics group. Elsevier will establish a Centre of Excellence within this web analytics group in connection with the Institute, co-staffed with UCL researchers. The Centre will be based at Mendeley's headquarters, making it easier for colleagues to share knowledge and resources; it will offer employment as well as commercialization activities in collaboration with UCL.

University College London (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

University College London (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

"Our aim is to help scientists do better research and do it faster," said Elsevier CEO Ron Mobed. "This is a significant investment by Elsevier in UK science in an area where we have outstanding expertise, and in collaboration with a world-leading institution."

UCL has a wide range of research activities and joint initiatives in the broad and expanding area of big data and research analytics. To connect these initiatives, UCL is developing a Research Domain for "e-Research" with an online community that will enable researchers in a wide range of fields, from particle physics to digital humanities, share insights into better use of large computational resources in research. The Big Data Institute will be a key addition to that family of activities.

The researchers will have access to Elsevier's data and enterprise-level technology, opening up new research possibilities with a broad range of applications. One of these is the open-source big-data technology HPCC, which being used by Elsevier in the ScienceDirect and SciVal platforms and by LexisNexis Risk Solutions, owned by Elsevier's parent company, Reed Elsevier.

Ron Mobed

Ron Mobed

Mobed summarized the importance of big data and the role of HPCC technology at the December ceremony for the opening of the UCL Big Data Institute. He told the audience: "Today, our research platforms bring the world's academic literature and data to millions of users, 24 hours a day, every day of the year. So it will come as no surprise that we already do analytics on top of big data. Take ScienceDirect – our full-text research content platform serving researchers. Using cutting edge distributed computing technology – called HPCC – we are able to deliver real time 'Amazon-style' article recommendations by running analytics on terabytes of usage data. That makes it vastly easier and much faster for researchers to discover information that is relevant to their work.

"Making our researchers more productive has a significant multiplier effect on the economy as they are able to produce results that foster medical and scientific discovery, technological advances, commercial development, jobs and productivity." 

ElsevierConnectLogo_smallThis article first appeared in Elsevier Connect, an online magazine and resource center for the science and health communities with a broad and active social media community. It features daily articles written by experts in the field as well as Elsevier colleagues.

For the collaboration, Elsevier will provide the technological and publishing know-how and expertise in interpreting structured data, as well as an understanding of the marketplace. UCL will contribute their academic expertise and creativity to finding solutions, along with a deep understanding of the research process and the needs of researchers.

UCL President and Provost Dr. Michael Arthur said: "The UCL Big Data Institute will keep us at the forefront of addressing pressing issues around the storage of big data, the curation of scientific information, and the production, disclosure and consumption of research information. UCL and Elsevier inevitably have complementary interests in many aspects of research dissemination and will both together and independently continue to develop these for the good of the global research effort."


Journal visualization project benefits from new changes

Earlier this year we unveiled the Journal Insights pilot. The initiative has now been rolled out to more than 800 journals and we highlight some recent improvements.

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Hans Zijlstra | Marketing Project Manager, STM Journals Project Management department, Elsevier

Back in the March edition of Editors’ Update, we discussed the newly-launched Journal Insights project in the article Increased Transparency benefits both authors and journals.

The and Health Advance homepages of all journals participating in the project (and the number has now reached 850) feature a new section, ‘Journal Insights’. Authors clicking on this link arrive at a landing page where they can select data visualizations of three key groups of metrics, developed to aid their decision making. When the project pilot was launched earlier this year, those three metrics were:

  • Quality - Graphs displaying the Impact Factor, five-year Impact Factor, Article Influence and Eigenfactor, SNIP and SJR.
  • Speed – Graphical representations of both the average review speed for the journal over a five-year period and the online article publication time (also known as production speed).
  • Authors - A detailed world map allows viewers to swiftly identify the geographical distribution of (corresponding) authors who have published in the journal within the past five years.

We have continued to work on improving the information displayed. Below I have outlined some recent changes which take on board lessons learned during the pilot phase and your early feedback.

  • The metric ‘Quality’ has undergone a name change – it is now referred to as Impact.
  • The Journal Insights homepage now offers an overview containing links to the individual metrics available in each category.
  • There is a new, simplified visualization of SNIP (Source-Normalized Impact per Paper) – Relative Database Potential (RDP) has been replaced by the Raw Impact per Paper (RIP), in the 5-year historical overview the highest value has a full circle and all lower values in the 4 years relate to that visually. RIP provides an interesting alternative to the Thomson Impact Factor, because it is based on Scopus data. 2012 data has also been added to SNIP.
  • Visualizations of the Article Influence & Eigenfactor and SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) have also been updated. Additionally, SJR now includes 2012 data.
  • Changes have been made to the design to aid search engine optimization (SEO).
  • A new drop down menu has been created in the top bar to make navigation easier.


An example of the Journal Insights pod, which can be found on the journal homepage of participating journals.

An example of the Journal Insights pod, which can be found on the journal homepage of participating journals.



For 2014, we would like to add new datasets and visualizations and we will further improve the interface on the basis of author feedback. But we have to be realistic too: there is no such thing as a perfect dataset. That is why not all journals can display all metrics. Also the fact that Journal Insights was built in HTML5 language is still an issue for some old browser versions. HTML5 is optimized for mobile devices but does not display very well in Internet Explorer 8 or lower. Fortunately access via this browser is diminishing and currently comprises less than 10% of our traffic.

Feedback appreciated!

We want to continue improving – if there are changes you would like to suggest, please contact me at And if you would like to see the Journal Insights information introduced on your journal homepage, please contact your publisher or marketing manager.

Example of an journal homepage displaying the Journal Insights pod

Example of a journal homepage on our Health Advance platform displaying the Journal Insights pod

Ben Rowe

ORCID/EES integration offers new benefits to researchers

Discover how the integration of ORCID into Elsevier’s Editorial System (EES) can simplify your workflow.

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Ben Rowe | Service Manager, Operations, Elsevier

The use of ORCID - Open Researcher and Contributor ID - is growing in the publishing community. Elsevier has now integrated ORCID functionality into EES with the aim of making it even easier for authors to link their ORCIDs to their publication history, while also providing benefits to reviewers and you as editors.

What is ORCID?

ORCID is a not-for-profit organization founded by academic institutions, professional bodies, funding agencies and publishers in 2010. Elsevier is among the founding sponsors and helped to fund the initiative through loans and donations of money and staff time. By registering with ORCID, users receive a unique digital identifier, also called ORCID, to which they can link their published articles and other professional activities. Authors then have a single record of all their research, which can be made public.

This can reduce or eliminate confusion when the same person's name appears in different ways in various publications, when people have the same or similar names, or when people change their name, e.g. following marriage.

Put simply, an ORCID provides a unique identity for researchers — an ‘author DOI’ — similar to that used for publications.

How is ORCID integrated into EES?

Users with a consolidated user profile can now add their ORCID to their personal information on EES. Linking an ORCID in one journal automatically links it to all of the journals in their consolidated profile.

Those corresponding authors with a consolidated profile that don’t already have an ORCID linked to their profile will be offered the chance to link their ORCID as part of the submission process.

Co-authors also have the opportunity to link their ORCID. When the corresponding author completes submission to the journal, an email is automatically sent to all co-authors. The email contains instructions for linking their ORCID to the submitted paper. This linking is done on a stand-alone page without co-authors being required to register for an EES account.

Full details on linking an ORCID on EES are available on our ORCID article on the Support Hub.

Is adding an ORCID on EES optional?

Yes, linking an ORCID is entirely optional. We do encourage usage but we will never make it mandatory.

How does this benefit EES users?

You can now search for reviewers on EES using an ORCID, which will help to ensure the right person is contacted when names are similar.  If a user has linked his ORCID to his EES profile, the ORCID will be displayed in an additional column in the profile as a clickable link that opens the user’s public record on the ORCID website. This will allow you to see the full list of research linked to that user, which will help with identifying suitable reviewers.

When a paper is accepted and published in one of our journals, the ORCID will be included as part of the submission metadata. This metadata is sent to CrossRef, which in turn forwards it to ORCID. The article is then added automatically to the user’s list of works in his public profile on the ORCID website.

When reviewers have linked their ORCID on EES, you as editors will be able to view the public record on ORCID and gauge their suitability for a particular review. This should help to ensure that reviewers are not invited to review submissions outside their area of expertise.

Where can I get more information on ORCID?

The ORCID website contains a wealth of information on ORCID, including a list of FAQs. On this website you can also register for your unique ORCID.

A recent article on Elsevier Connect provides information on the growth of ORCID.

A Support Hub article on ORCID is available that provides information on ORCID and EES, including a guide to how to link an ORCID.



New launch from Science & Technology Books changes the rules on reference works

Elsevier reference works are changing along with their users. Find out more…

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Ian Evans | Communications Business Partner, Elsevier

In the past, reference solutions were either current, or they were trustworthy. There are websites like Wikipedia that deliver up to the minute information, but the compromise can be accuracy. Conversely, rigorously edited reference works are more dependable, but can be years old before a new edition is published.

The launch of Elsevier Reference Modules on ScienceDirect is a next-generation approach to major reference works. Reference Modules combine thousands of related articles into one evolutionary source of reliable information that is continuously updated. As a result, researchers have access to current, reliable, comprehensive foundational content.

“It’s a massive change,” said Lisa Tickner, Director for Continuity Publishing. “We’re leading the way in a new approach to publishing book content. We’ve been publishing electronic reference works for a while now, but it’s still been the case that you publish an e-book, wait a few years and then do another edition. This is our first foray into modular publishing and constant updating.”

For each module an Editorial Board of subject experts reviews content to ensure that the most significant developments in the field are included. Once published, articles enter a review cycle and are regularly checked by the Editorial Board to ensure that they stay current.

That process created a huge amount of work up-front for the Books team, as the launch of the first two Reference Modules meant reviewing more than 10,000 articles for currency.

“At one point we held currency review marathons,” said Lisa, describing days on which reviewers were given a few hundred articles to review – and a few pizzas to eat.

Elsevier reference works changing along with their users

The idea of constantly updated online modules was conceived in response to a changing marketplace. With even the likes of the Encyclopedia Britannica doing away with its print version and moving to an electronic-only model, it was clear that the world had changed.

“It’s motivated largely by customer needs,” said Lisa, “People want something that’s convenient to access, and fully up to date. With things like Wikipedia and other new competitors coming onto the market we needed to be a bit smarter.”

Using Reference Modules, a researcher or a student can get a basic or higher level introduction to a subject, giving them a starting point from which to go into more depth. Recently, this has a been a task for which people were using Google and Wikipedia, but Lisa and her team see Reference Modules as offering some key advantages.

“Google gives you millions of results, not all of which are relevant or current. Wikipedia articles are more focused, and they’re up to date, but have some issues with accuracy. The idea with Reference Modules is to give people the best of all possible worlds.”

A new workflow for reference works

Unsurprisingly, working on a massive project such as this presented a number of challenges, not least that of taking an entirely new approach to reference books. Reference Modules required a completely different workflow to the traditional reference books, and it meant Elsevier and its partners delivering a new level of dedication.

“What we asked of our editors is more than we’ve ever asked before,” said Lisa, speaking of the commitment of those involved. “They had new demands thrown at them all the time, they were on tighter timescales. It was a challenge, but they rose to that challenge.”

Authors, too, had to adjust to a different way of doing things. Initially energized by the idea of being able to get published quicker, authors found that the rapid pace of continuously updated content meant shorter timeframes for writing.

Nonetheless, due to a huge collaborative effort, the first two Reference Modules – on Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences, and Chemistry, Molecular Sciences and Chemical Engineering – are on track to go live mid-September.



Recognizing your top reviewers

We know that finding and retaining good reviewers is one of the greatest challenges our editors face. In March this year, we collaborated with editors on 32 journals to find a simple way to recognize the contributions of ‘top’ reviewers – those who have really gone that extra mile for a journal. The result was […]

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We know that finding and retaining good reviewers is one of the greatest challenges our editors face.

In March this year, we collaborated with editors on 32 journals to find a simple way to recognize the contributions of ‘top’ reviewers - those who have really gone that extra mile for a journal. The result was the Certificate of Excellence in Reviewing, featured in figure 1 below.

How does it work?

Editors from each of the participating journals nominated their 25 best reviewers. Those reviewers then received a personalized HTML email containing a link to a high-resolution PDF file of their certificate, suitable for printing. Each certificate was created using a unique PDF generation tool developed by Elsevier WebShop for the Top25 Hottest Articles and Certificate of Publication.

The response from reviewers was immediate and encouraging. One of the participating editors, Dr Sandra Shumway, co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology (JEMBE) admitted:I didn’t expect it to do anything. But I had a couple of people write back and say thank you.”


Figure 1. Example of a Certificate of Excellence in Reviewing, presented to a journal’s ‘top’ reviewers.

Sandra Shumway

Comments from the reviewers who contacted Shumway included, “thank you….a really nice surprise!” and “just returned from a trip and was cleaning up email when I came across the Excellence in Reviewing Certificate.  Nice to be appreciated.  Many thanks!”. Shumway added: “People need to publish and people need to review. My list included those who I knew had really come through for me; those who responded when I needed them for reviews. I believe the newer and younger reviewers will be attracted by this recognition.”

Debra Bick

The journal Midwifery also participated in the project and Editor-in-Chief, Professor Debra Bick, is keen to continue using the certificate. She said: “This initiative worked very well with our reviewers, many of whom contacted myself or Sarah (Sarah Davies, her Elsevier Publisher) to say how pleased they were to be identified in this way.  We would certainly do it again, as the journal feedback is also an excellent way for our reviewers to reflect in their CVs how they are contributing to research and scholarship.”

Across the board, the response to this initiative was positive, both in quantitative and qualitative feedback. Data shows that more than 65% of the email recipients went on to download their certificate.

Next steps

Based on these early results, we plan to turn the study into an annual initiative available to every journal, beginning in 2014. The input required by editors will be minimal. As the time approaches for the certificates to be distributed, we will approach you to ask for your list of ‘exceptional’ reviewers – those who have really excelled that year. The rest of the process will be administered by your journal’s Marketing Manager. While we recommend that you choose 25 reviewers, that number will remain flexible. Shumway said: “I found it hard to create a shortlist of 25 reviewers, but this number seems suitable. When it’s ready to go again, I’ll be ready with my list.”

Philippe Terheggen

Philippe Terheggen, Executive Vice President of Science, Technology and Medicine Journals, has been a strong supporter of the project within Elsevier. He explained: “I’m delighted that this new initiative has landed so well with both our reviewers and the editors that participated. It shows how small steps to provide formal recognition provide a valuable tool for retaining these sought-after people. Perhaps there are some framed Certificates of Excellence in Reviewing hanging on a few walls around the world right now.”

No reviewer left behind

Elsevier understands that even one review is a great contribution. To this end, there is also an annual ‘Thank you Reviewers!’ initiative. Run at the beginning of each year for all participating journals, a special announcement is placed on the journal homepages, together with full page print adverts in the journals, thanking the reviewers for their valued contributions. In addition, the initiative links to the reviewer benefits page on which reminds them we provide free Scopus and ScienceDirect access and outlines the other benefits Elsevier offers.

These programs are just two of the initiatives we are exploring to help editors find or retain reviewers. Find out more about some of these in Exploring Improvements to the Peer-Review System featured in issue 36 of Editors’ Update.

Hot off the press!

As of this week, Elsevier reviewers can feature the journal for which they review in their e-mail signature or on their personal webpage using a new badge we have created. The journal-specific badge can be claimed within seconds via an online tool at

Figure 2. Example of a reviewer badge

What do you think about these initiatives? Do you have suggestions for your colleagues on how to attract and retain reviewers? Please take a few moments to post a comment below.

Author biography

Ursula van Dijk

Ursula van Dijk
Ursula has more than 20 years of experience in Science, Technology and Medicine journal marketing.  She is based in Amsterdam and leads a team of marketers within the Physical, Formal and Applied Sciences area with a focus on supporting publishing initiatives by communicating and interacting with our editors, authors and reviewers.


PDF versus HTML – a shared future!

As you may know, over the past few years the Article of the Future team at Elsevier has introduced an array of article content innovations to enhance the online reading experience. More details on the most recent of these can be found in the article How to handle digital content in this edition of Editors’ […]

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As you may know, over the past few years the Article of the Future team at Elsevier has introduced an array of article content innovations to enhance the online reading experience. More details on the most recent of these can be found in the article How to handle digital content in this edition of Editors’ Update.

With so many of these innovations already live and functioning on ScienceDirect, we thought the time was ripe to poll researchers about their thoughts on the future of the scientific article format - in particular the online version (HTML) and the traditional PDF. We posed a series of questions to a 500-strong online group of researchers, whose members represent a variety of disciplines worldwide*. Their answers provided some interesting food for thought.

How we conducted the survey

The survey was divided into two phases. We began by asking participants for their thoughts on both the HTML and the PDF. We asked them to outline the pros and cons of accessing and reading articles in both formats and which had their preference. We also asked them to indicate which format they expected to be using in the future.  Once they had completed their answers, participants entered stage two. This involved viewing a video outlining Elsevier’s Article of the Future project, which focuses on enriching content in a discipline-specific manner. They were then presented with a second set of questions.

During the first stage, key insights gained included:

  • Researchers favor the PDF format primarily for in-depth reading - they find the HTML format more convenient and suitable for discovering content and determining its relevance.
  • Researchers feel there will be a place for both HTML and PDF formats in the future: PDF for offline access and the storage of content for later reference, HTML for online access and immediate learning and discovery.
  • If we want to promote the uptake of HTML, we need to address concerns around author input, printing, storing and sharing content, and make the HTML layout customizable.

In the words of one participant: “If the article contains interactive elements, then (the) HTML version would make more sense; otherwise (the) good old PDF will be preferable.”

Other participant comments included:

“There exist so many articles. And it's hard to open or download whenever I find interesting things. So it's more reasonable to read (the) HTML version first.”

“I prefer to work with the printed version of the article because I don’t like reading from (the) screen.”

“I use articles in the HTML format because they may contain links to additional information and tools (missing in PDFs).”

“PDF version is formatted just like the article in print, I can easily navigate to the places I want.”

“HTML files are ok on the screen but messy to handle downloaded. But I do sort normally on abstract or relevant info I get in the HTML environment, before I click on the PDF icon for download.”

“I prefer to share the article URLs rather than sending big PDF files around.”

“(The PDF) looks and feels more like a paper article.  If I want to print it, I think it will look better printed from PDF.  If I want to save or email it, it is easier with PDF.”

IJsbrand Jan Aalbersberg, Senior Vice President Journal & Content Technology, leads Elsevier’s Content Innovation team. He was not surprised by the findings of the first stage of the research. He explained: “These replies match the ones received in earlier Article of the Future studies, which led us to develop the three-pane article view now available on ScienceDirect. The PDF-style center pane is ideal for reading the paper while the other two panes offer a series of discipline-specific presentation and content enrichments that add real value to the article. The preference for a PDF format when printing is something that the Article of the Future project is taking into consideration: we are currently looking into how we can make the center pane easy to print, while maintaining its optimized reading format.”

Figure 1. An article in the journal Digital Applications in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage on ScienceDirect, displayed using the three-pane view.

Phase two

In the second stage of the survey, participants were shown the Article of the Future video (below), which discusses recent improvements to article presentation, content and context and the introduction of the article three-pane view on ScienceDirect.

When asked if the video had changed their perception of the usability of the HTML format, 60% agreed it had, while 25% said it hadn’t and 15% were unsure. A sample of participants’ comments is recorded below.

60% said: ‘Yes, it has changed my perception’ 25% said: ‘No, it has not changed my perception’
“I conventionally don´t like html articles because of the way they are presented in the screen, nevertheless, the Article of the Future is taking the traditional way to a new frontier, beyond hypertext to metacontent management by user or reader.” “This is more or less what I can see on some programming software, but applied to articles, good idea but questions remain: How will it age? How expensive to maintain? How to keep it alive and operational?”
“Elsevier has used the power of the internet to make sure the article is a truly dynamic, interactive and well annotated and connected scientific document.” “Logical path forward. The current problem is that not all users are equipped with appropriate technology, nor do they master it.”
“I like the interaction with the content, and the ease of exploring other links and references without having to go back to search for them later.” “…as long as I cannot download it, it's hard to archive and I prefer reading it offline.”
“I think there's a great deal of advantages to providing the option to publish in such a format. I would be interested to see how authors can access the tools to represent their data in these new formats.” “It offers greater interactivity - but there again a much more powerful PDF viewer (with interactive tools built in) would preserve PDF's ascendancy.”
“… much more powerful than pdfs that I currently use.” “I didn't see how the features were relevant to articles, only handbooks and textbooks.”

More than 65% thought there would be a shift towards HTML use in the future.

We also asked participants to let us know whether they expected the way they access and use articles today to change in the future. Their responses varied:

Yes 30.8%
Maybe 50.0%
Probably not 10.3%
No 3.2%
Don't know / not sure 5.8%

Aalbersberg commented: “The digital revolution has radically changed the way in which scientists carry out their research, and process and store their results. It is clear that as long as technology develops, the way scientists access and use articles will develop as well – the important question is: How and by how much? 20 years ago the only article format was paper, some 10-15 years ago the format became PDF, and now a new way of usage has been created by the introduction of tablets. Does that mean that we threw away paper and will now throw away desktop computers? No – we apply the format and way of use that is applicable at the moment of use. And the same will hold for PDF and online HTML: I think that there is a future for both. PDF will remain the preferred format for archiving and offline use, while online HTML will increasingly become the standard for online use, as it is so much richer and in tune with the ongoing developments in the regular research process.”

PDF and HTML – the pros

Consistent layout 

Offline accessibility

Easy to store and organize

Similar to print version

Easy to print

Displays images well

Easy to share by email (when small)

Easy to annotate

Customized to device (incl. mobile) 

Enriched and interactive content

Always latest version

Up-to-date and linked context

Linked with data repositories

Easy to search

Easy to share by link (also when large)

Fast access from lists

Includes supplementary material

* The questions were posed to a community of 500 researchers. Two surveys were conducted during January 2013. The first attracted 159 responses (31.8% response rate) the second attracted 122 responses (24.4% response rate).

Author biography

IJsbrand Jan Aalbersberg

IJsbrand Jan Aalbersberg
After joining Elsevier in 1997, IJsbrand Jan served as Vice President of Technology at Elsevier Engineering Information (Hoboken, USA) during 1999-2002. As Technology Director in Elsevier Science and Technology (2002-2005), he was one of the initiators of Scopus, responsible for its publishing-technology connection, and subsequently focused on product development in Elsevier’s Corporate Markets division (from 2006-2009). He then took on the role of Vice President Content Innovation, which he held until 2012. In both that role and the position he now holds, he has striven to help scientists to communicate research in ways they weren’t able to do before. IJsbrand Jan holds a PhD in Theoretical Computer Science.


How to handle digital content

Increasingly, researchers are turning to digital tools to find and access content, and are using the web to share and organize research output in new and exciting ways – just consider Mendeley for a moment. Much research material now has a fully digital life-cycle and this new type of content calls for a new publication […]

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Increasingly, researchers are turning to digital tools to find and access content, and are using the web to share and organize research output in new and exciting ways – just consider Mendeley for a moment.

Much research material now has a fully digital life-cycle and this new type of content calls for a new publication format. At Elsevier we have been working to meet that need via our Article of the Future (AotF) project.

Why do we need to change?

The format of an article hasn’t evolved much over centuries. While the move from print to PDF has changed the way in which articles are delivered, and made content easier to find, the article format has remained, by and large, unchanged. We believe there is a lot of room for improvement.

For example, at one time or another many of us will have printed out a plot, then used a ruler to reconstruct the actual data points – an inefficient and inaccurate process. We know that the author has the actual data and may assume that they are willing to share it (since it is presented in a plot) – but it’s the article format that makes that sharing impossible.

Figure 1. Data cursor – an illustrative example

Our answer has been to develop an interactive plot viewer that allows readers to hover over data points and see the actual value of the data as provided by the author (see figure 1). This is still a prototype application, but we are working on deploying such an interactive plot viewer on ScienceDirect.

The Article of the Future is an ongoing project. Our goal is to:

  • Break away from the limitations of the traditional, ink-on-paper article format.
  • Enable researchers to publish their work in all its dimensions, including digital content like data, code, multimedia, etc.
  • Take advantage of what modern web technology has to offer to create an optimal and richer reading experience.

Article of the Future – the inside track

There are three main directions in which we are improving the online article – presentation, content and context. You may have read about some of these in previous articles in Editors’ Update. However, new elements are being rolled out on a regular basis and 2013 has seen a number of innovations introduced. Below we highlight just some of these and outline how you can get involved.


In ScienceDirect, articles now appear across three panes (see figure 2).

Figure 2. The new three-pane view introduced by the Article of the Future.

The left-hand pane is used for browsing and navigation, the center pane is optimized for online readability, and the right-hand pane collects additional content and functionality. What is shown in the right-hand pane will vary per research discipline and even per individual article – influenced, for example, by the content the author has delivered. However, it also includes some generic features, for example the reference browser shown in figure 3. When you click on a reference in the main article, bibliographical information for that reference appears, including an abstract when available. This information is pinned to the right-hand pane, so that it remains in place while you read through the paper in the center pane. This example shows how small changes can make a difference – this is not a technological tour de force, yet it saves readers a lot of scrolling time.

Figure 3. Reference browser in the right-hand pane.


This aspect of the AotF focuses on better support for digital research output such as data, code, or multimedia, but also on better support for domain-specific data formats.

One innovation we have introduced this year is the embedding of 3D visualizations in online research articles - invaluable for understanding complex structures, dynamic simulations, and research discoveries. Without interrupting the flow of reading, users can explore and interact with 3D models by zooming in, panning and rotating. They can also change various display settings, open the viewer in full screen mode and download original data files.

The ultimate goal of this project is to create an online visualization infrastructure for ScienceDirect that can be accessed from any device. We are working to achieve this in partnership with Kitware SAS, our 3D visualization service provider. So far, a 3D molecular viewer and a 3D archaeological viewer are available. An author simply uploads the model as a supplementary file to the Elsevier Editorial System (EES). The 3D model then appears in the right-hand pane of the article on ScienceDirect.

The 3D molecular viewer visualizes molecular structures and supports PDB, PSE, and MOL/MOL2 data formats. It allows the models to be explored using the two most common visualization techniques: ‘ribbons’ and ‘balls-and-sticks’, both shown in figure 4.

Figure 4. Ribbons (left) and balls-and-sticks (right) visualizations of a 3D molecular model.

The 3D archaeological viewer (see figure 5) visualizes models submitted in PLY and OBJ formats. The surface rendering technique is applied to display 3D data (including the texture and material properties support). The viewer was developed to support the new Elsevier journal Digital Applications in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, which is unique in that it focuses on the application of 3D modeling to cultural heritage.

Figure 5. Surface rendering of 3D archaeological models.

The next 3D viewer – a neuroimaging module supporting 3D data in NIfTI format for selected neuroscience journals – is currently under development.

Another big step for the Article of the Future project was taken in May of this year, when Elsevier announced the first Executable Papers on ScienceDirect. These papers were published as part of a Special Issue in the journal Computers & Graphics, and would not have been possible without the full support and ambassadorship of the Editor-in-Chief, Joaquim Jorge, and guest editors Michela Spagnuolo and Remco Veltkamp. What makes Executable Papers unique is that they not only capture the narrative of a traditional scholarly paper, but also the computational methodology underpinning the reported results. This gives the reader additional insights and ensures full reproducibility of key scientific findings – an ideal of scholarly communication but, with the traditional article format, something that is often not realized.

The Special Issue makes use of the Collage Authoring Environment, developed by a Polish team affiliated with CYFRONET and first-prize winner of the Executable Papers Grand Challenge launched by Elsevier in 2011. Using Collage, authors can upload data and computer code and interconnect these elements to construct a ‘computational experiment’ from input to output.

ScienceDirect readers can inspect code and data, and – more importantly – they can also change parameters, upload their own test data, and re-run code to really probe the paper’s computational methodology. Collage also offers reviewers and editors access to the computational experiments that belong with a paper, extremely useful for the peer-review process.

Another recent innovation, which is quite different from the projects discussed above, is AudioSlides. These are five-minute, webcast style presentations (combining slides with voice-over recordings) displayed next to the article on ScienceDirect. What sets these apart is that the presentations are not an integral part of the paper, but rather presentations about the article.

They are created by the author and offer a unique opportunity to provide insights into the paper’s content and explain why it is of interest. This new feature has been rolled out to a wide range of journals, and we do hope that you will encourage authors to make use of it.

As an editor, you can also highlight papers of interest yourself by creating an audio podcast. This might take the form of an interview with the author or it could be you sharing your opinion about the article with potential readers. There is also the option to create a podcast for a complete journal issue, which may be organized as a brief overview of all included articles. The article-related podcasts will appear in the right-hand pane of an article, while issue/volume-related podcasts will appear next to each article in the specific issue/volume.

Other content innovations introduced include:

  • The Interactive (Google) Maps viewer, now available for more than 100 journals working with geospatial data. Authors upload their KML/KMZ files as supplementary material and the viewer upgrades a static map to an interactive one. This is integrated into the article view on ScienceDirect and readers can download underlying data.

Figure 6. The Interactive (Google) Maps viewer turns a static image into a rich, interactive source of information.

Figure 7. MATLAB figure viewer showing a 2D surface that the user can inspect by rotating, zooming in, and panning.

  • An application to visualize MATLAB figure files. MATLAB is a general-purpose mathematical modeling tool widely used in engineering and applied sciences. With MATLAB it is possible to export plots to a MATLAB FIG format, which contains both the visualization and the underlying data. Currently available for 50+ journals.
  • Interactive phylogenetic trees. Displayed in the center pane below the abstract, this application allows the reader to interactively explore phylogenetic trees on ScienceDirect. To support this functionality, authors of relevant articles are invited to submit their tree data in Newick and NexML formats.
  • The Chemical compound viewer, an application that visualizes the chemical structure of key compounds in the article and links to Elsevier’s Reaxys® chemistry database*, where additional information can be accessed.


Figure 8. ScienceDirect banner pointing to two databases – MGI and RGD.

Web technologies allow us to interlink the article with other sources of relevant, trusted scientific information on the web – upgrading the article from a one-way street to a roundabout.

For example, Elsevier has a program to link articles with relevant data sets that reside at a data repository. One way we can do this is by inserting a banner next to an article which is only shown if a database has data sets specifically relevant to the paper. Figure 8 shows a banner pointing to two data repositories: MGI (Mouse Genome Informatics database) and RGD (Rat Genome Database). We currently collaborate with more than 30 data repositories in different domains.

Figure 9. An example of the PubChem Compound Viewer.

Taking data linking one step further, it’s also possible to build visualization tools on top of data links, for example the PubChem Compound Viewer we have developed with the National Center for Biotechnology and Information (NCBI). The application extracts relevant information from the NCBI PubChem Compound database using the PubChem CID code and compound name provided by the author. It generates a short summary, which includes the 2D chemical structure image, molecular weight, molecular formula, IUPAC name and a direct link to the full PubChem record (see figure 9). The PubChem Compound Viewer appears in the right-hand pane of the article on ScienceDirect.

How you can get involved

We are committed to enhancing the online article so that it better meets the needs of researchers in the digital age but your input is invaluable if we are to achieve this. There are a number of ways you can get involved:

  • Do you have an idea for a content innovation to enhance online articles in your discipline? If so, please do let your Publisher know.
  • When you receive a new paper, please take a few moments to think about whether it can benefit from some of these content innovations.  If so, we would encourage you to ask the author for the supplementary data required.
  • Encourage your authors to use AudioSlides to talk about their paper and attract the attention it deserves.
  • Create your own editor podcast to highlight articles that deserve special attention. To find out more, please email Elena Zudilova-Seinstra at

Further reading

* Reaxys®, the Reaxys® and ReactionFlash™ trademarks are owned and protected by Reed Elsevier Properties SA. All rights reserved.

Author biographies

Hylke Koers

Hylke Koers
Hylke is responsible for a range of projects to enhance the online article format. Part of Elsevier’s Article of the Future program, this includes improved online presentation, better support and visualization of digital content, and contextualization of the article by linking with data repositories and other sources of trusted scientific content on the web. Before joining Elsevier in 2010, Hylke received a PhD in Theoretical Astrophysics from the University of Amsterdam and served as a postdoctoral research associate at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. He is based in Amsterdam.

Elena Zudilova-Seinstra

Elena Zudilova-Seinstra
Elena has been working on the Article of the Future project since joining Elsevier in 2010 as a Senior User Experience Specialist for the User Centered Design group. She holds a PhD in Computer Science and an MSc degree in Technical Engineering from the St Petersburg State Technical University. Before joining Elsevier, she worked at the University of AmsterdamSARA Computing and Networking Services and Corning Inc.


Your Paper, Your Way – now available to all journals

Over the past year, journals enrolled in the Your Paper, Your Way pilot have been allowing their authors to do just that – submit their papers without strict formatting or referencing requirements. Your Paper, Your Way was the brainchild of Sir Kelvin Davies, PhD, DSc, Editor-in-Chief of Free Radical Biology & Medicine. He introduced the […]

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Over the past year, journals enrolled in the Your Paper, Your Way pilot have been allowing their authors to do just that – submit their papers without strict formatting or referencing requirements. Your Paper, Your Way was the brainchild of Sir Kelvin Davies, PhD, DSc, Editor-in-Chief of Free Radical Biology & Medicine. He introduced the concept in mid-2011 and, in 2012, we extended the option to a further 41 journals across all disciplines. Their experiences have proved so encouraging that, as of this July, all Elsevier journals will have the opportunity to join this exciting project.

Your Paper, Your Way – the origins

Anthony Newman

Anthony Newman, a Publisher for Elsevier’s Life Sciences journals, was present at the annual editors’ meeting of Free Radical Biology & Medicine, when Davies came up with his unusual suggestion. In an article on Elsevier Connect, Newman recalled: “We were sitting around the table talking about what’s good and what’s bad. We’ve had a lot of push-back from authors who say, ‘I know you have a high rejection rate, but I have to spend a lot of time just to submit a manuscript’. We talked about the fact that we are forcing them to put it into our format when the chance of it being accepted is just 20%. It was at that point that Kelvin suggested we try allowing contributors to submit their manuscripts without the formatting.”

Davies highlighted the benefits of Your Paper, Your Way (YPYW) in both a video editorial (above) and a post on the Editors’ Update Short Communications board back in March 2012. He explained: “Although standard formats do make it just that little bit easier for editors and reviewers to see everything in the correct style, the reality is that the advantage is very small, and we should really be focusing on the quality of science and not the format. For authors the difference is very significant… an easier submission process not only saves time and effort but may also allow authors to achieve faster publication speeds.” That easier submission process could also help to alleviate one of authors’ key concerns - when Elsevier’s Research & Academic Relations team surveyed researchers about what they find most frustrating, nearly one in three chose ‘preparing manuscripts’.

Feedback from editors

Once the YPYW pilot was underway, we asked the editors involved to share their thoughts on the project - 33 responded. Their feedback proved very positive, with the majority of editors reporting no increase in workload (see Figure 2).  In fact, 95.5% of editors agreed that the new Your Paper, Your Way author instructions were clear and easy to follow. Their comments included: “Great feature and very helpful for authors.” “Highly recommend to do this and to in fact extend this to all submissions.” “Much easier submission process - if you have 10 figures you can easily see them in the right order.”

Your Paper, Your Way – the statistics

  • 80% of editors surveyed found that YPYW manuscripts require less or the same amount of time as standard submissions.
  • 70% of editors surveyed found that YPYW manuscripts are either the same or easier to work with than standard submissions.
  • 87.5% of authors surveyed believed that YPYW reduces the amount of time typically taken to format and submit their paper
  • 85% of authors surveyed found YPYW easy or extremely easy, compared to 51% of authors who chose traditional submission

Editors participating in the pilot were asked a series of questions related to the YPYW process. Their answers are captured in the pie charts below:

Figure 1. Manuscript quality.

Figure 2. Time required.

Figure 3. Author friendliness.

Becoming more author-friendly

Papers submitted via the Your Paper, Your Way route still need to include the following key elements:

  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Materials and methods
  • Results and discussion
  • References
  • Figures and figure legends

Kelvin Davies

Any important ethical requirements, e.g. the Conflict of Interest declaration, are also still mandatory. As long as the references have all the necessary information, the author need not format according to a specific style because Elsevier will take care of that after acceptance.

Reflecting on Free Radical Biology & Medicine’s experiences since they launched the pilot in July 2011, Davies said his journal had not received any complaints from reviewers, and many authors had sent letters of thanks and praise for the system.

Author uptake so far

From December 2012 to date, the 42 pilot journals have received around 51.5% of submissions via the Your Paper, Your Way route. We expect this figure to increase as more authors become aware of the service. Authors who chose the Your Paper, Your Way submission route commented: “We chose to spend time on content instead of the ‘correct format’." “It was simpler and faster than (the) traditional one. I think it is a good way to speed the process.” “…time consuming formatting work was not undertaken unnecessarily.” “I didn't have to waste time with formatting before being sure about the acceptance.” We also asked authors to let us know which submission option they intended to use in the future - 80% said they will either always use, or mostly use, YPYW when it is available.

Feedback from reviewers

The pilot data suggests that Your Paper, Your Way is an author-friendly initiative that simplifies researchers’ lives. However, it is also important to ensure that the resulting papers do not complicate the review process. To evaluate the impact on reviewers, 165 responses from the Reviewer Feedback Programme (RFP) were analysed: 77 of these responses related to a YPYW submission, the remaining 88 to a traditional submission. There were no significant differences in reviewer satisfaction based on any related criteria: "The review format and structure for review submission was helpful"; "I am very satisfied overall with my experience of reviewing"; "I could read the manuscript and figures clearly with no technical problems".

July 2013 - upscale to all journals

Based on the positive researcher feedback we have received, invitations are currently being sent to all journals to participate in Your Paper, Your Way. If you haven’t already heard from your Publisher, they will be in contact shortly to discuss this further.

Author biographies

Catriona Fennell

Catriona Fennell
Following graduation from University College Galway, Ireland, Catriona joined Elsevier as a Journal Manager in 1999. She later had the opportunity to support and train hundreds of editors during the introduction of the Elsevier Editorial System (EES). Since then, she has worked in various management roles in STM Journals’ Publishing and is now responsible for its author-centricity and publishing ethics programs.


Daniel Gill

Daniel Gill PROJECT MANAGER, JOURNAL DEVELOPMENT Daniel joined Elsevier in January, working on web-driven, content innovation projects alongside a small team based in Amsterdam, New York and Dayton, Ohio. Daniel has a publishing degree and has publishing project management experience mainly centered around science publishing within the educational, postgraduate and professional arenas. Prior to Elsevier, Daniel worked at John Wiley and Sons Ltd and Pearson Education UK.


Mendeley and Elsevier – what does the future hold?

Nearly three months has passed since the cloud-based research management and social collaboration platform, Mendeley, joined Elsevier. With the ink on the contract now dry and the integration of the two companies in progress, we examine what has changed and outline some of the plans already underway to simplify the lives of researchers. Taking the […]

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Nearly three months has passed since the cloud-based research management and social collaboration platform, Mendeley, joined Elsevier.

With the ink on the contract now dry and the integration of the two companies in progress, we examine what has changed and outline some of the plans already underway to simplify the lives of researchers.

Taking the first steps

When the acquisition was announced back on April 9th, we confirmed that Mendeley’s senior management team would remain in place. In the days that followed, Mendeley co-founder, Victor Henning, spoke publicly about the rationale behind the deal. In an article on Elsevier Connect, he explained that it just made “intuitive sense” to him. He said: “We started Mendeley to help researchers, and Elsevier lets us do that for a much larger community.” He also highlighted some of the advantages for users - for example, thanks to the acquisition, Mendeley could immediately double user storage space free of charge.

Since then, Henning has joined the Elsevier strategy team as a Vice President of Strategy, and is a regular visitor at the Elsevier Amsterdam office. In fact, he is planning to relocate there. He explained: "As the weeks have passed, I've become even more excited about the Mendeley-Elsevier partnership. While meeting many of my new colleagues, I have been offered a sneak peek at the initiatives underway at Elsevier designed to serve authors and researchers better. Many of these initiatives mirror ideas which we at Mendeley would have liked to pursue as well, but had to put off because we didn’t have the resources - ideas around recommendation engines, text mining, interactive content, raw data, and open access.

“Mendeley and Elsevier are serving the same audience - researchers around the globe - and are covering different parts of the scholarly workflow. Now that we are part of the Elsevier family, we have started to close the gaps in this workflow and make it more seamless. For example, as one of our first steps, we have already added support for all Elsevier journal citation styles, making it easier for authors to properly format their articles when submitting their work to Elsevier journals. And because we have shared these newly-generated citation styles with the open CSL (Citation Style Language) repository, the styles are not just available to Mendeley users, but to users of other tools like Zotero, Papers, BibSonomy, Docear, Qiqqa, and others.”

He added: “We are also examining how we can use Mendeley’s recommendation technology to direct authors to the right journal, enable article submissions straight from Mendeley to the Elsevier Editorial System (EES), and integrate Mendeley’s reading and annotation tools into the peer-review process. There are more ideas which I can’t yet share, and it will take time to implement them - but they all have the potential to radically improve the author experience and make researchers’ lives easier.”

Olivier Dumon, Managing Director of Academic and Government Markets for Elsevier (holding Lego sign) with Mendeley founders (left to right) Paul Föckler, Victor Henning, PhD, and Jan Reichelt.

Sharing a joint vision

Olivier Dumon, Managing Director of Academic and Government Markets for Elsevier, is equally excited about the opportunities offered by the new partnership. Dumon led the team that worked on the Mendeley acquisition, and speaking after the deal was announced, he commented: “Sometimes business collaborations show so much potential they should just go all-in, and that was true in this case.”

According to Dumon, the acquisition allows Elsevier to build upon strong foundations in search and discovery by adding capabilities in document and citation management and sharing.

He explained: “We have long known that researchers encounter a lot of pain points across their workflow – whether that’s keeping up to date with other research or submitting research papers of their own.

“While we can already help them with a number of these steps, we realized we wanted to improve our support for two of the most important ones – the sharing, collection and storage of data and the writing of papers.

“Researchers use Mendeley for its document and reference management, collaboration, analytics and networking tools, and the Microsoft Word plug-in is a fantastic aid when it comes to writing.”

He added: “Elsevier also has a successful track record with indexing content from multiple publishers on researchers’ behalves through tools such as Scopus, Scirus and Reaxys®.*

“By offering integration between Mendeley, Scopus and ScienceDirect, we can make this combined platform the central workflow and collaboration site for authors. In addition, we will be able to provide greater access to a growing repository of user-generated content while building tools that will enable researchers to search it more precisely.”

Dumon also believes the partnership will have a positive impact on areas such as altmetrics, getting real-time information on hot articles across publishers based on Mendeley readership metrics. He said: “That will help librarians assess their collections and render all publishers’ content more discoverable.”

Victor Henning's guide to Mendeley

Co-founders Jan Reichelt, Paul Föckler and I started Mendeley to solve our own problems. Back in 2007, we were PhD students with hundreds of academic papers stored on our computers and no good way to make sense of them. Existing reference management tools seemed too cumbersome, clunky, and expensive - they cost hundreds of Euros, required a lot of manual data entry, and wouldn’t even store the metadata and the PDFs together!

So we wondered: Why wasn’t there a tool that could extract the relevant metadata - authors, title, year, journal, volume, issue etc. - automatically from PDFs, and help us manage the files? A tool that would also let us read and annotate PDFs, cite papers in Word, OpenOffice, or LaTeX, and allow us to set up collaborative groups for sharing and discussing research? In short, a tool for helping us with our entire workflow from content discovery, to document management, to authoring and collaboration? After realizing that such a tool did indeed not exist, we began to create it ourselves.

Fast forward to 2013: Mendeley is now a global academic community. Collectively, our users have uploaded more than 400 million citations and documents into their Mendeley accounts. Our users’ aggregated, anonymized metadata - available via the Mendeley API (application programming interface) - powers more than 300 new third-party research apps, e.g. document management on Android and Kindle, altmetrics apps like and, and citation plugins for web and learning platforms like WordPress, Drupal, and Moodle.

A few of your questions answered…

Over the years, Henning's speaking engagements at publishing conferences have offered ample opportunity to chat with journal editors and publishers.  Here he answers some of the most common questions he has been asked.

Q. Is Mendeley a peer-to-peer file sharing tool? Can academics just search and freely download any article they want?
A. No, it isn’t. Mendeley keeps each user’s library private and accessible only by them. It is not possible to search for an article on Mendeley, see if another user has it in their document library, and download it from there. Instead, when Mendeley users search for or discover an article on Mendeley, we only show them the metadata - then link to the original publisher via DOI, or to the user’s institutional library via OpenURL.

As such, Mendeley is a major driver of traffic and article usage to publishers. Over the past few years, Mendeley had struck agreements with several major publishers and societies, e.g. Springer, IEEE, De Gruyter, and others, about providing us with metadata and document feeds to augment, clean, and complete our database, as cleaner and more complete data meant more traffic, usage, and altmetrics impact for publishers. Now, with Elsevier’s support, we hope to grow our collaboration with other publishers to a much larger scale.

Q. How does Mendeley treat self-archiving of articles and sharing for collaboration?
A. There are only two ways in which articles can be shared on Mendeley: Via self-archiving articles on an author’s Mendeley profile, or via Mendeley’s 'Private Groups' functionality.

Each Mendeley user has their own profile page - mine is here: Users can upload their own papers to their profile to ‘self-archive’ them and make them available for download on the web. It is entirely up to the user whether to opt into this functionality, and whether to upload only a metadata reference, a pre-print or post-print PDF, or a PDF of the final published version. We require our users to adhere to the copyright of their publisher when doing so, and the Mendeley user interface will incorporate explicit referrals to the SHERPA-RoMEO policies of the publisher in the near future.

The other way of sharing articles on Mendeley is via ‘Private Groups’. These are a collaboration space - much like Basecamp, SharePoint, or Google Docs - in which members of a team can keep track of references for a research project, collaboratively annotate documents, and discuss open questions. Private Groups are invisible from the outside, and are accessible by invitation-only. Free users of Mendeley are restricted to one Private Group, with a limit of three members including themselves; paid users of Mendeley can create groups of five up to 50 people, which are popular in labs and departments.

Naturally, Elsevier reviewed our self-archiving and collaboration practices before deciding to acquire Mendeley - and concluded that we were providing a valuable workflow service to academics without undermining publishing business models and journal viability.

Q. Is Mendeley pro-open access, or an open access-only tool?
A. First and foremost, Mendeley is a workflow tool that wants to make researchers’ lives easier, no matter whether they are working with OA or non-OA content.

When a researcher discovers OA content on Mendeley, we are able to offer them a direct download into their Mendeley library, whereas we have to send them to other publishers’ or library websites if they want to access non-OA content and we don’t yet have an agreement with the publisher. Reaching such agreements is one potential benefit of working more closely with the rest of Elsevier.  Many members of the Mendeley staff and community team are personal believers in the OA movement and see it as the way forward for publishing because if all content were OA, then all content would flow without friction around the web and into/through researcher workflows.

* Reaxys® and the Reaxys® trademark are owned and protected by Reed Elsevier Properties SA. All rights reserved.

Author biographies

Victor Henning

Victor Henning
Victor holds a PhD from the Bauhaus-University of Weimar, where he researched the role of emotion in consumer decision making. The Foundation of the German Economy granted him a doctoral dissertation scholarship in 2006, and the Royal Society of Arts elected him a Fellow in 2011. He completed an MBA at the WHU Koblenz, the Université Libre de Bruxelles, and the Handelshøyskolen BI Oslo. Victor has also worked as a Talent Scout A&R for Sony Music/Columbia Records in Berlin, Germany, and in various roles at punk/garage label Revelation Records in California, USA. In parallel to writing his MBA thesis, he also co-founded the Korova Bar in Vallendar, Germany.

Olivier Dumon

Olivier Dumon
Before joining Elsevier in February 2012, Olivier served as Vice President of Product Management for AT&T Interactive and Senior Director of Search for eBay. Previously, he worked for eBay in France and co-founded an online collaboration start-up that he sold to a B2B publisher. He was born in Paris and moved to the United States to attend Harvard Business School, where he completed an MBA in 1998.

Edward O'Breen

Improvements to Article Transfer Service underway

Improvements to the Article Transfer system are currently being piloted. These promise to streamline and automate the current process.

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Edward O'Breen | Marketing & Brand Manager EES and Evise, Elsevier

Over the past two years, around 170 Elsevier journals have offered the Article Transfer Service (ATS) as a complimentary service to authors.

If an author’s paper is rejected by a journal participating in the scheme, editors can offer them the opportunity to transfer their submission to another participating journal, without having to reformat or resubmit it. Any completed reviews are also transferred.

We have been working to fully automate the transfer process and have been trialling the result with a small number of journals.

If the pilot proves successful over the coming months then we plan to roll out the new process to all journals that are currently offering ATS to their authors.

What has changed?

Current process:
Depending on the journal configuration, editors have to email authors separately to let them know about the transfer offer. Authors then need to email back to agree to the transfer taking place. The actual manuscript transfer process can take up to 48 hours to complete.

New, fully-automated process:
The editor will select the appropriate decision term in the Elsevier Editorial System (EES) and the most appropriate receiving journal(s). The author will then receive the transfer offer by email and select the receiving journal of choice. Subsequently the submission, including all files, reviews and editor comments (if any), will be automatically transferred to the receiving journal almost instantly. If needed, the corresponding author will be automatically registered in the EES site of the receiving journal.

Elizabeth Ash

New tool helps authors identify the best journal for their paper

The new Journal Finder tool has been designed to help authors find the best home for their research. Discover how…

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Elizabeth Ash | Project Coordinator, Elsevier

For authors, getting their research paper published can be a challenge and it is even more challenging when their paper is rejected by a journal because it is out of scope. It can often add months to the publication process slowing career progress. We know that nearly one third of the visitors to Elsevier’s Authors’ Home are trying to choose a journal for their paper.

For Editors, dealing with out of scope papers can substantially add to their workload. 

In a bid to help authors we have launched a new Journal Finder tool, accessible from which has just gone live in BETA version. The tool is designed to:

  • Help less experienced authors select suitable journals for their papers
  • Enable authors working across multidisciplinary fields to identify possible journals
  • Highlight journals that offer open access options, and provide information on publication speeds and impact factors

“The Journal Finder tool as envisioned by Elsevier will provide substantive data and more specific information... thereby aiding both the faculty members and the librarians.” Sandra Yee, Dean, University Library System, Wayne State University, US

How does the tool work?

Authors enter their paper title, abstract or keywords and the tool creates a list of Elsevier journals that match the topic of their article. They can then order the results based on their priorities, such as highest impact factor or shortest editorial time. The selection contains links to each journal’s homepage and Elsevier Editorial Submission (EES) page.

Journal Finder tool
The new Journal Finder tool on Authors' Home

Listening and responding to authors

We listen carefully to authors and receive feedback from more than 60,000 authors each year. In 2012, we launched the Elsevier Mobile Application Competition, which asked early-career researchers to submit their ideas for journal-based mobile applications. The competition received an overwhelming response, with 3,775 ideas submitted.

By a happy coincidence, the winning idea – a “Scope-finder” that would find the best fitting journal for a paper - had already been identified as a priority for Elsevier and was incorporated into the development of the Journal Finder tool.

“The results matched precisely with my own judgement.” Dr Adrie J J Bos’, co-Editor-in-Chief of Radiation Measurements

Your feedback can help us ensure the tool continues to develop to meet the needs of authors and Editors. Please take a few moments to try it out on the Authors’ Home section of then email your thoughts to referencing the subject Elsevier Journal Finder (BETA) - User Feedback.

Cortex journal cover

Journal Cortex launches Registered Reports

Editors of the journal Cortex are experimenting with an innovative new approach which will see the peer-review process split into two stages. Find out more…

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Dr Chris Chambers and Professor Sergio Della Sala | Associate Editor and Editor-in-Chief of the Elsevier journal Cortex

On May 1st, Cortex launched a new innovation in scientific publishing called a Registered Report. Unlike conventional publishing models, Registered Reports split the review process into two stages. Initially, experimental methods and proposed analyses are pre-registered and reviewed before data are collected. Then, if peer reviews are favourable, we offer authors “in-principle acceptance” of their paper. This guarantees publication of their future results providing that they adhere precisely to their registered protocol. Once their experiment is complete, authors then resubmit their full manuscript for final consideration.

Cortex is an international journal devoted to the study of cognition and of the relationship between the nervous system and mental processes.

Why should we want to review papers before data collection? The reason is simple: because the editorial process is too easily biased by the appearance of data. Rather than valuing innovative hypotheses or careful procedures, too often we find ourselves applauding impressive results or being bored by non-significant effects. For most journals, issues such as statistical power and technical rigor are outshone by novelty and originality of findings.

Chris Chambers

Dr Chris Chambers

By venerating findings that are eye-catching, we incentivize the outcome of science over the process itself, forcing aside other vital issues. One of these sacrificial lambs is statistical power – the likelihood of detecting a genuine effect in a sample of data. Several studies in neuroscience suffer from insufficient statistical power, so – driven by the need to publish – scientists inevitably mine their underpowered datasets for statistically significant results. Many will p-hack, cherry pick, and even reinvent study hypotheses to ‘predict’ unexpected findings.

Such practices cause predictable phenomena in the literature, such as poor repeatability of results, a prevalence of studies that support stated hypotheses, and a preponderance of articles in which obtained p values fall just below the significance threshold. Furthermore, an anonymous survey recently showed that these behaviours are not the actions of a naughty minority – in psychology and neuroscience they are the norm. We ourselves are guilty.

Sergio Della Sala

Professor Sergio Della Sala

Registered Reports will help minimise these practices by making the outcome of experiments almost irrelevant in reaching editorial decisions. Cortex is the first journal to adopt this approach, but our underlying philosophy is as old as the scientific method itself: If our aim is to advance knowledge then editorial decisions must be based on the strength of the experimental design and the likelihood of a study revealing definitive results – and never on how the results themselves appeared.

We know that other journals are watching Cortex to gauge the success of Registered Reports. Will the format be popular with authors? Will peer reviewers be engaged and motivated? Will the published articles be influential? We have good reasons to be optimistic. In the lead-up to Registered Reports, many scientists have told us that they look forward to letting go of the toxic incentives that drive questionable research practices. And our strict peer review will ensure that our published findings are among the most definitive in cognitive neuroscience.

Linda Willems

CrossRef Board of Directors Approves FundRef Tracking Service

A pilot to find a standard way of reporting funding sources for published scholarly research has now been approved for wider adoption.

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Linda Willems | Academic Content & Communications Manager, Elsevier

CrossRef's Board of Directors has approved a plan to adopt the FundRef funder identification project and make it more widely available.

The project was first launched as a pilot, which ran from March 2012 to February 2013. During the pilot period, scholarly publishers and funding agencies, facilitated by CrossRef, collaborated to find a standard way of reporting funding sources for published scholarly research.

A report that outlines the experience of the pilot and provides recommendations for going forward is now available. Both the report and the idea of rolling out the project were approved by CrossRef's Board of Directors at their March meeting. FundRef will now be implemented by CrossRef from May 2013 onwards.

FundRef will benefit a number of constituents:

  • Authors will be able to choose from a standard set of names of funders when submitting for publication.
  • Researchers will be able to view funding information in a standard way across publishers to help them evaluate the scholarly content they read.
  • Publishers will be able to track the funders driving the content in their journals and other content.
  • Funding agencies will be able to better demonstrate the scholarly output resulting from their expenditures.
  • The public will gain transparency into scholarly funding and its results.
Elena Zudilova-Seinstra

Create audio podcasts for your journal

We are looking for enthusiastic and technology-oriented editors to participate in a new initiative which allows you to create editorial audio podcasts for your journal.

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Elena Zudilova-Seinstra | Content Innovation Manager, Elsevier

With so much information available, it can be all too easy for a researcher to miss important articles in their field. Our new editorial audio podcasts have been designed to combat this problem and we are now inviting editors to join the pilot. We are keen to hear from editors who already know how to create podcasts, are familiar with existing technologies, or have the interest and time to learn.

These podcasts are a powerful means of highlighting articles that deserve special attention. They might take the form of an interview with the author or it could be you sharing your opinion about the article with potential readers. There is also the option to create a podcast for a complete journal issue, which may be organized as a brief overview of all included articles.

All editorial audio podcasts will be freely available on ScienceDirect. The article-related podcasts will appear in the right hand side panel, next to the article. The issue/volume related podcasts will appear next to each article in the specific issue/volume.

Editor podcast on ScienceDirect

An example of an article-related podcast

An example of an editorial audio podcast can be found in the journal Sport Management Review.

Thanks to the podcast player embedded next to the article, readers are capable to listen to the podcast online or to download it locally and play it later using any MP3 player. To help choose between these two options, the length of the podcast and the MP3 file size are both indicated. It is recommended that each podcast is a maximum of 10 minutes long and has a short text description. The podcast submission and production processes are guided and controlled by the journal managers of participating journals.

If you are interested in creating editorial audio podcasts, we would be delighted to include your journal in our ongoing pilot. Please email me at


Making the most of social media

Social media has become a part of everyday life. In 2010, Facebook overtook Google as the Web’s most visited site and in the US Internet users spend one out of every four online minutes on social networking sites and blogs [1]. If social media is unfamiliar, that first dip of your toe into new waters […]

Read more >

Social media has become a part of everyday life. In 2010, Facebook overtook Google as the Web’s most visited site and in the US Internet users spend one out of every four online minutes on social networking sites and blogs [1].

If social media is unfamiliar, that first dip of your toe into new waters can be daunting. However, Elsevier has a range of subject-specific pages available you can join. And below we have outlined some tips for setting up and maximizing the potential of your own social media profile.

The social media landscape

Broadly, the term social media covers people having a conversation online. Conversations can take place in online forums, online communities, social bookmarking sites, user ratings and also as part of multimedia sharing sites.

Figure 1. Some of the social media options available

91% of mobile Internet use is now for social activities. On average, over the course of 12 months, Internet users will:

  • Share 415 pieces of content on Facebook
  • Spend an average of about 23 minutes a day on Twitter
  • Tweet a total of around 15,795 tweets
  • Upload 196 hours of video on YouTube

Sharing research, accomplishments and ambitions with a wider audience makes you more visible in your field. With greater visibility, you are more likely to be cited, you cultivate a stronger reputation and you promote your research, your journal and your career. Some of the more popular networking sites include:


  • Share photos, status updates and links regarding your research with all of your ‘friends’
  • Keep up with association or organization news and announcements on their official pages


  • Share quick thoughts, statements and announcements with followers using no more than 140 characters
  • Share your current research, publications, and links to new blog posts with others
  • Follow other researchers and increase your own following


  • Showcase your work to your connections by creating a profile (just like in a CV)
  • Post your latest accomplishments, research findings and links to your articles
  • Join research groups that interest you and connect with others

Every second, one new user joins LinkedIn and 81% of users belong to at least one group.

At Elsevier, we have more than 160 social media channels (including The Lancet and Cell Press) covering all subject areas. We use these to promote new research, increase traffic to journal articles, gauge opinions on new journals and special issues and give more than 360,000 followers a chance to interact with us directly.

As an editor, your contribution to these social media communities, by starting or joining in with discussions, may even highlight new hot topics or bring an up-and-coming researcher to your attention. These communities also offer a great opportunity to call for new papers.

We invite you to follow or join Elsevier’s social media channels to keep abreast of the latest research in your area, share your ideas, and ask the questions you want to discuss with your peers and colleagues.

How to set up your own profiles

Signing up for an account is easy, but having a professional and personable profile takes a little foresight and effort to build. While each social platform has different specifications and limitations, here are some steps that will work for all:

  1. Profession: Describe what you do. You're not defined by your job title and you're not confined by your job description.
  2. Type of organization: Using your company name is good, but you can also describe the type of organization.
  3. Expertise and unique strengths: What are your key competencies and skills? What are the qualities that differentiate you from your colleagues?
  4. Keep it real: Always use real names, photos and locations.

There is one further step that can help to define your profile, a step that defines your communication style with social media tools in general:

5. Personality: What should your audience know about you that makes you a real person?

Below is an example of how these principles have been used to build a Twitter profile:

Figure 2. Example of a Twitter profile

When communicating through social media, you are having conversations with the people that read your publications, potential and current authors, colleagues and peers, industry specialists, and more. Just as in any form of communication, some rules apply and these are even more enhanced in the social realm. You should be:

  • Transparent: Be honest, upfront, and open to criticism.
  • Conversational: It’s not about blasting a message. It’s about having a conversation and asking questions, listening, and responding.
  • Active: By participating on a regular basis, your interactions will grow your network organically.
  • Valuable. Don’t post just to post. Think about how your network will use the information you are sending. It’s even better to add context to a link – let them know why you are posting.

With a little practice, interacting in social networks can become as natural as emailing or talking in person. It can even be fun!

Author biographies

Angelina Ward

Angelina Ward
Angelina (@angelinaward) leads social business efforts throughout the organization. These include forming policy, guidelines and centralized resources, and driving corporate-level campaigns. She speaks at industry events on social media topics and has been recognized as one of the Top 50 Women in Technology on Twitter who truly “gets” social media and social business. She is based in Atlanta.

Rachel Guest

Rachel Guest

Rachel Guest
Rachel is based in Elsevier’s Oxford office. She is the social media project lead for Elsevier’s Science, Technology and Medical Journals with responsibility for more than 150 subject social media channels with a following of more than 250,000 individuals. Her role is to ensure that Elsevier’s social media content engages with and meets the needs of researchers.


[1] All statistics quoted in this article have been taken from the following:

The Growth of Mobile Marketing and Tagging, Holly Richmond, Microsoft Tag

100 more social media statistics for 2012, Cara Pring, The Social Skinny

The LinkedIn Profile, Market Research – the latest social media and market research news, Lab42


Reference simplification will streamline author submission process

As journals’ reference-related instructions have continued to grow in complexity, so too has the amount of time required to comply with them. Recent research [1] shows that authors now spend an average 3.2 hours per paper on this task. Not only is this an unnecessary use of their time, the focus on formatting increases the opportunities […]

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As journals’ reference-related instructions have continued to grow in complexity, so too has the amount of time required to comply with them.

Recent research [1] shows that authors now spend an average 3.2 hours per paper on this task. Not only is this an unnecessary use of their time, the focus on formatting increases the opportunities for factual errors to creep in.

Elsevier’s Publishing Services team has been working on a multi-stranded shake-up of the reference system. Dubbed the Reference Simplification Project, it will not only standardize reference styles, but offer journals the opportunity to forego them completely. Other elements will focus on the accuracy of link information.

Elizabeth Przybysz, a Junior Project Manager in Publishing Services, has been leading the project team. She believes one of the key benefits will be an increase in author satisfaction as more of their time is freed up to concentrate on other elements of the paper. “We think we will also see journal discoverability enhanced, while publication times should experience a reduction,” she added.

Over the coming year, a number of changes will be rolled out – one of these will automatically be applied to all Elsevier titles while others will be introduced on an opt-in basis. Read on to find out what it could mean for your journal.

All Elsevier-owned journals will switch to one of six standard reference styles

Examples of some of the detailed formatting specifications we currently require from authors:

  • Journal titles should be abbreviated without punctuation and not in italics
  • Always use "&" symbol when there are two authors in parentheses
  • ONLY use the English version "et al"

The majority of Elsevier journals require authors to use one of 10 standard reference styles. Another 200 plus journals use their own unique, non-standard reference styles. Last summer, Elsevier’s User Centered Design team carried out a survey and usability tests with journal readers. Those questioned indicated that six styles in particular were easy to follow. Based on this information, six standard Elsevier styles will be rolled out to all Elsevier-owned journals in 2013. These are:

Appreciated by our readers for displaying all author names. Once all deviations are removed, this style will be used by 335 Elsevier-owned titles. The style is popular in Physical Sciences.

Primarily used in Humanities and Social Sciences. Our readers liked the name / date format, which displays basic information without the need to visit the last article page. It will be used by more than 400 journals.

Vancouver Numbered
The Vancouver Embellished format will be incorporated into this style and the result will be used by more than 242 journals - popular in Medical Sciences.

Vancouver Name / Date
A version for communities that prefer citations to feature the authors’ names in parentheses.

American Psychological Association
The only style presenting full journal titles, an option preferred by 35% of the readers we spoke to. Almost 200 of our journals will follow this style, especially within Social and Economic Sciences.

American Medical Association
This style is used in more than 150 medical journals, especially popular amongst Societies.

A standard style for each journal will be chosen based on its close resemblance to the journal’s current reference style. If you feel that another style from our list above suits the journal better, please contact your Publisher.

All styles will include the article and chapter title. In the past, these items were removed due to space restrictions in print versions of journals, however, our survey respondents asked for their reintroduction to assist with assessing source relevance.

Figure 1. Current situation with regard to reference styles – Elsevier titles only

Figure 2. What we hope to achieve by April 2013 with the rolling out of six standard styles – Elsevier titles only.


Journals are invited to consider removing formatting requirements

This will be offered an on opt-in basis only. If you choose this model for your journal, authors will be invited to submit their references in any style, as long as the references are complete and consistent. The typesetters will apply the final style.

Elizabeth believes this may prove a deciding factor for authors when choosing a journal and could help to attract more high-quality papers. She adds: “In exchange, we will ask authors to focus on the quality of the data critical for the link creation, invite them to use the DOI and urge them to pay attention to the presence of links in any references they decide to copy from other sources.

“Online what really matters is that a citation is linked to its source. Impact Factors take into account the number of citations an article has received. An error introduced to a reference can prevent a link creation and potentially lead to a journal missing out on a few decimal points on its Impact Factor.”

Key data used by the linking services to create a link are author(s) name(s), journal title (or its standard abbreviation), year of publication and the pagination. Italics, use of dots and data sequence are not important. Elizabeth explained: “That key data must be recognized correctly in the process of tagging; therefore the consistency of the pattern of the reference is essential for the structuring. DOIs are real life savers: even if all other data is misspelled, but the DOI is correct, the link will be still created.”

Those journals adopting this model will be closely monitored to ensure that the typesetters effectively convert the styles and that the change brings the benefits expected.

Examples of the journal-specific reference style will still be displayed in the Guide for Authors.  As part of the project we will also update the Endnote and Reference Managers, so that they accurately reflect the journal style.

Journals adopting this option would see the following section appear in their Guide for Authors

Guide for Authors: new instructions

Discoverability of research and high quality peer review are ensured by online links to the sources cited. In order to allow us to create links within ScienceDirect and to abstracting and indexing services, such as Scopus, CrossRef or PubMed, please ensure that data provided in the references are correct. Please note that incorrect surnames, journal/book titles, publication year and pagination may prevent the link creation. When copying references, please be careful as they may already contain an error. Use of the DOI is encouraged.

There are no strict requirements on reference formatting at submission. References can be in any style or format as long as the style is consistent. Author(s) name(s), journal title/book title, chapter title/article title, year of publication, volume and issue/book chapter and the pagination must be present. Use of DOI is highly encouraged. The reference style used by the journal will be applied to the accepted article by Elsevier at the proof stage. Note that incorrect or missing data will be highlighted at proof stage for the author to correct.

The reference style used by this journal is 'here we state the journal-specific style'. If you do wish to format the references yourself they should be arranged according to the following examples...

In future, accuracy of references will be checked with one of the major linking service providers

Elsevier plans to introduce a new step of comparing the references received from an author with the database of one of the major linking service providers. This will allow us to correct and complete missing data without the need to delay publication by sending the manuscript back to the author. We hope to see this come into effect next year (2014).

If you wish to find out more about the Reference Simplification Project and what it means for your journal, please contact your Publisher. The project complements other author-centric solutions currently under development at Elsevier. The Simpler Submission service, for example, offers authors the opportunity to reduce formatting across all manuscript components.

Understanding reader behavior

The survey and usability tests carried out by our User Centered Design department have uncovered the following facts about reader behavior:

  • While 53% of researchers read articles as downloaded files on their screens, 45% prefer to print them out before reading. With new technologies such as tablets, we expect the percentage opting for print to decrease.
  • 48% indicate that while they may look through the references while reading an article, they only go to the sources once they have finished reading.
  • Linking of references online was important to 88% of the respondents.
  • 58% prefer the name / date citation format over numbered citation.
  • 46% indicate they want to see the names of all authors in the citation, no matter how long the list is.
  • 69% of authors format references manually. Reference formatting takes, on average, three hours per paper, even taking into consideration the use of reference managers.
  • 39% do not include DOIs, and 16% don’t know what a DOI is.
  • The researchers surveyed believe that within a reference, items should be listed in the following order of importance:
  1. Author
  2. Article title
  3. Title of publication it appeared in
  4. Year of publication

Author biography

Elizabeth Przybysz

Elizabeth Przybysz
Elizabeth joined Publishing Services for STM Journals in October 2011. Alongside the References Simplification project she manages the Simpler Submission project mentioned in the article. Elizabeth has also successfully introduced the Guide of Transfer and Acquisitions for Publishers. Prior to her move to Publishing Services, Elizabeth worked in Customer Services, assisting our customers in both Italian and Polish. Before moving to Oxford, Elizabeth worked in the banking sector in Italy and Ireland.


[1] Elsevier’s User Centered Design team surveyed around 200 authors in August 2012. Respondents were asked how long it took them to prepare references and if they used any software to reduce the workload. Although 60% of respondents used software, the average time taken to format references was found to be 3.2 hours.


Increased transparency benefits authors and journals

Over the past few months, Elsevier’s Journal Marketing Communications team has been busy behind the scenes, cooking up a range of projects to increase the information we provide to journal authors. Two of these projects have now reached fruition and were recently launched as pilots. Read on to discover more about Journal Insights and the […]

Read more >

Over the past few months, Elsevier’s Journal Marketing Communications team has been busy behind the scenes, cooking up a range of projects to increase the information we provide to journal authors.

Two of these projects have now reached fruition and were recently launched as pilots. Read on to discover more about Journal Insights and the Article Usage Report and what they might mean for your journal.

Delivering journal insights

With so much competition for good papers, ensuring your journal is on the receiving end of premium submissions can be a challenge.

Equally, authors can struggle to find the best home for their research and we know that a desire for more clarity around journal performance is high on their wish lists.

A new pilot has been developed to help alleviate these problems. Launched in December 2012, the Journal Insights project aims to highlight your journal’s performance while providing the transparency authors seek. Six Elsevier titles are already taking part with plans underway to increase that number over the coming months.

How does it work?

The journal homepage of each participating journal contains a new section, ‘Journal Insights’. Authors clicking on this link arrive at a landing page where they can select data visualizations of three key groups of metrics, developed to aid their decision making.

Metric group one - quality

Authors can choose between graphs displaying the Impact Factor, five-year Impact Factor, Article Influence and Eigenfactor, SNIP and SJR. Each graphic is accompanied by a definition of the metric and relevant supporting data.

Figure 2: A visualization of the 2007-2011 Source-Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) for the journal Soil Biology and Biochemistry

Metric group two - speed

Authors can discover the average review speed for the journal over a five-year period. They can also choose to view the online article publication time (also known as production speed), which covers three key steps. These are: from manuscript acceptance to the first appearance of the article online; from manuscript acceptance to the corrected proof online; and from manuscript acceptance to the final appearance online of the fully paginated article.

Figure 3: A visualization of the changes in speed of publication for the journal Global Environmental Change between 2007 and 2011

Metric group three - authors

A detailed world map allows viewers to swiftly identify the geographical distribution of (corresponding) authors who have published in the journal within the past five years.

Figure 4: A visualization of the geographical location of corresponding authors whose papers have been published in the journal Forest Ecology and Management over the past five years

The journals already taking part in the Journal Insights pilot are:

Data sources for the visualizations include ThomsonReuters (ISI), Scopus, EES and a number of internal Elsevier systems.

Hans Zijlstra, Marketing Project Manager, is leading the Elsevier team behind the project. He explained: “About a year ago, we got together to think about how we could help our authors make a more balanced selection of journals for their papers. Our aim was to provide them with more insight.

“For example, in the case of quality, everyone knows and uses the Impact Factor but there are other metrics that can help to assess the journal’s performance - this initiative makes it easy to view the Eigenfactor, SNIP and SJR with just a click of the mouse.”

The team looked at a number of options for presenting the three groups of metrics but decided that a clean and simple graphical presentation would provide the strongest impact.

Hans explained: “While we were impressed by some of the information other Publishers are providing, it can take some time to work your way through it all. We hope we’ve found a balance between providing comprehensive data and keeping it accessible for a broad audience.”

According to Hans, the advantages of featuring the metrics on your journal homepage are many and include:

  • Providing more transparency for authors
  • Strengthening your journal’s reputation
  • Attracting more high-quality submissions

An added bonus is that the visualizations have been built using mobile device-friendly software. However, as the technology has been developed with both PC and mobile use in mind, it works most effectively in IE9 browsers and above, as well as Firefox or Chrome. If you are using an older version of Internet Explorer, you may not be able to view the full interactive functionality.

The next step will be to gather feedback from the editors and authors involved in the pilot to further improve the visualizations. Hans and his colleagues are already busy exploring the potential of additional developments to enrich the data sets and visualizations.

If the pilot proves successful and the project is expanded, it will be on an opt-in basis. The team has the relevant data available for around 1,500 journals and your Publisher and Marketing Manager will be able to recommend whether the Journal Insights pod should be added to your journal homepage. Your Publisher can also pick and choose which metrics are shown and a variety of combinations are possible.

If you have any thoughts on the project you would like to share you can contact Hans at, or simply post your comments below.

Helping authors track their usage

Another pilot underway to support authors was also launched in late 2012. The new, complimentary Article Usage Report allows corresponding authors to assess the immediate impact of their published article. This complements our existing CiteAlert service, which comes into effect once an author’s article has been cited.

How does the Article Usage Report work?

By the end of January 2013, corresponding authors from 50 selected journal titles had received an email containing a link to their personalized dashboard on ScienceDirect’s usage system. There they are able to view how often their articles have been accessed and by which countries. They can also find tools to promote the use of their paper via social media channels.

Annette Leeuwendal, Director of Publishing Projects for Publishing Services, is leading the multi-department Elsevier team behind the Article Usage Report. She explained: “The STM Industry is increasingly looking at usage data as a new way to measure a paper’s success and industry-wide developments of new standards for article metrics are underway. We hope the Article Usage Report project will help to meet our authors’ changing needs.”

The pilot aims to deliver insights into technical performance of the usage system and collect author feedback on usability and purpose.

Feedback so far has been encouraging and includes:

  • “Gives inspiration and encouragement as well.”
  • “I think it is a fantastic scheme, it really gives you a greater sense of achievement knowing that people are reading your work.”
  • “With time the relevance of numbers will be known and even more helpful.”
  • “As an academic demonstrating the reach of your work is critical to tenure and performance reviews. This is very nice to include in a tenure and promotion package.”

We aim to roll the pilot out on a journal by journal basis, beginning this summer. If you are keen to see your journal become one of the early adopters of the Article Usage Report, please contact your Publisher.

Figure 5: An example of an Article Usage Report taken from the journal Vaccine

Author biographies

Hans Zijlstra

Hans Zijlstra
Hans works in the STM Marketing Projects department in Amsterdam. He is responsible for projects focusing on journal and article metrics with the aim of improving our service to authors. He joined Elsevier in 1996 and held various marketing positions before leaving to take on roles in mail order, telecom, finance and sailing. He returned to Elsevier in 2008.

Annette Leeuwendal

Annette Leeuwendal
Annette is the newly-appointed Director of Publishing Projects in the Publishing Services department based in Amsterdam. In her previous role as a Project Manager for Marketing Communications, she was responsible for piloting the Article Usage Reports with authors of 50 STM journals.   Annette has been involved in various Elsevier programs across Operations and Publishing divisions since 2010. She has a Master’s degree in Geology and an MBA from Henley College of Management.


Clarifying attribution in a digital world

The list of authors attached to a paper has provided a comfortable device for apportioning attribution for centuries – not only is it simple and clear, we all have a good idea of what ‘authoring’ implies. However, with the increasing migration of content to an online environment, the number of ways in which papers can […]

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The list of authors attached to a paper has provided a comfortable device for apportioning attribution for centuries - not only is it simple and clear, we all have a good idea of what ‘authoring’ implies.

However, with the increasing migration of content to an online environment, the number of ways in which papers can be connected has exploded. We expect references and citations to click through, we want to see what else authors have written, and we are keen to discover who they have collaborated with.

But while this connectivity establishes that there is a link between an author and a paper, it says nothing about the nature of that link. Did the author write the experiment, analyze the data, or were they responsible for running the research program, ie. had very little to do with this particular article?

Bridging the discipline gulf

Depending on your field, you may be thinking about the order in which the authors are assembled, and how you can use this to make sense of their relative status. However, a researcher in another field may interpret that same list quite differently. This is illustrated in the table below in which we take a look at a fictional paper written by Smith, Taylor and Thorisson.

 High Energy Physics Author list is in alphabetic order, no precedence can be interpreted. Names may include engineers as well as researchers, in this case we could add Bercow, a PhD student who ran the experiment and took care of writing computer algorithms, ensuring the integrity of the data and selecting candidates for trials, etc...
 Economics, some fields
within Social Sciences
Author list is in alphabetic order, no precedence can be interpreted.
 Life Sciences Smith the postdoc did most of the experimental work, but Thorisson was the principal investigator who led the scientific direction of the work. The alphabetical order is coincidental.
 ‘Standard’ order Smith is the senior researcher who did most of the work. Taylor was subordinate to Smith, Thorisson is subordinate to Taylor. The alphabetical order is coincidental.

Table 1. Varied authorship conventions across disciplines referencing a fictional paper written by Smith, Taylor and Thorisson.

One of the advantages that a reconceptualization of authorship offers us is the proper acknowledgement of work undertaken during the research process without conferring a higher status than is merited. For example, work that is undertaken on computer algorithms would not (at the moment) usually confer authorship by itself – however, a move towards a contributorship model would enable the correct communication of the algorithm creator's contribution.

As publishing opens up, and platforms become more integrated, we are likely to become more exposed to articles that are outside our field, and others that are interdisciplinary. If we can’t rely on the author order to help us make sense of what authorship has meant for a particular paper, can we at least be sure about the class of activity that merits authorship attribution?

With the exception of high energy physics, which will include engineers along with researchers in the authorship list, it’s a surprisingly difficult activity to undertake. There is an extensive and growing literature available covering the ethical dilemmas that arise from attribution.

Understanding the rules

The most widely used authorship rules are known as the ’Vancouver rules’ and were laid down by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE)[1]. The rules, which are followed by several hundred journals – mostly medical - specify that:

“Authorship credit should be based on: 1) substantial contributions to conception and design, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; 2) drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and 3) final approval of the version to be published. Authors should meet conditions 1, 2, and 3.

Although these rules are clear and many journals are signed up to follow them, there is evidence that compliance is far from complete, and that the rules are not well understood. In fact, exploring alternative models was the focus of the International Workshop on Contributorship and Scholarly Attribution [2], hosted by IQSS (The Institute for Quantitative Science) at Harvard in May last year. Those of us with experience in publishing would recognize the issues involved in getting hundreds of authors to give final approval to a document: and some fields have published manuscripts where authorship is well into the thousands.

Two phenomena that have become recognized over the last few years are ‘ghost’ authorship and ‘guest’ authorship. Guest authorship occurs when an author’s name is included on the authoring list despite them not having played any part in the research or authoring process. This can come about in a variety of ways: when it is ‘normal lab practice’ to include the head of the lab on all publications; when a researcher has left the organization before the paper is written; and in the hope that a senior and well-respected name will confer additional credibility on a research paper and improve the chances of publication in a high-impact journal. Ghost authorship is a phenomenon that is said to occur when interested parties employ a professional writer, or have staff members on the research team, but don’t include these individuals on the final publications list. The implication is that these people would have a conflict of interest in the outcome of the research (or at least the presentation of the research at publication). By omitting their names, the paper affiliations look more neutral. There is a variety of other literature [3] in this area, alleging political / organizational influence in the creation of authorship lists. There is also some evidence that – when computed – tasks that would have previously conferred authorship no longer have this advantage.

As publishing articles is frequently considered to be the main currency of academic recognition – and is increasingly included in formal rule sets that govern academic status and eligibility for funding – so we can expect an increase in the heat governing this debate. Potentially, if the number of authors included in an article continues to increase, we may also witness a decrease in the value of authorship.

Adopting a contributorship approach

So what about contributorship, and how does it relate to authorship? Authorship is bound to persist into the future, for both ethical and copyright / legal reasons, so contributorship needs to be seen as an extension of existing protocols.

In short, the idea behind contributorship is to disclose what activities the researcher undertook to merit a place on the author list. Research undertaken by the author and colleagues in 2012 indicates that nearly all activities can be classified into a set of between 12 and 15 categories. The first three of these are outlined in Table 2 below. Although the prospect of this additional task as a manual activity would – quite properly – concern all people involved in the authoring and publishing process, this work could be a feature of the various research and collaboration tools (e.g. Mendeley) and services such as ORCID (footnote: ORCID was designed to enable definitions richer than authorship).

Conceptual and intellectual Formulation of the research questions; design of the experiments; interpretation of the results; intellectual and moral responsibility for the integrity of the paper, as a whole and for individual contributions.
Technical and experimental Implementation of the investigation and undertaking of experiments; obtaining specimens and subjects; acquisition and processing of data; analysis of results.
Organizational and communication Writing the project proposal and obtaining funding; ensuring compliance, e.g. ethics committees’ approval, informed consent; writing up results into a paper; illustration of the paper – selection and use of data; reporting.

Table 2. Three of the categories proposed to classify contributorship

Relationships are changing; we are moving towards a richer world with a more detailed and nuanced web of connections.  Although the concept of authorship is rooted in our culture and in our minds, contributorship could offer a richer set of definitions, enabling our contributions to human knowledge to be recorded more precisely. The value to us will be in knowing the areas of our expertise and contribution. If the cost is ameliorated through intelligent tools and services, then we can expect to see contributorship becoming one of the hot topics in scholarly communications and publishing.

  • Do you agree that contributorship is the way forward? Would it work in your field? Please let us know your thoughts by posting your comment below.

An article on this topic, Fixing authorship – towards a practical model of contributorship, has also appeared in Elsevier’s Research Trends.

Author biography

Mike Taylor

Mike Taylor
Mike has worked at Elsevier for 16 years. He has been a research specialist in the Labs group for the last four years, and has been involved with ORCID (and previous projects) throughout that time. Mike's other research interests include altmetrics, contributorship and author networks. Details of his research work can be found on


[1] International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts submitted to Biomedical Journals: Ethical Considerations in the Conduct and Reporting of Research: Authorship and Contributorship.

[2] IWCSA Report (2012). Report on the International Workshop on Contributorship and Scholarly Attribution, May 16, 2012. Harvard University and the Wellcome Trust.

[3] A small selection of the literature available on this topic:

Hylke Koers

AudioSlides allow authors to promote research findings in their own words

Authors can now create online presentations about their papers that are displayed on SciencDirect. If you would like your journal to offer AudioSlides, read on…

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Hylke Koers | Content Innovation Manager, Elsevier

New initiative will allow authors to create online presentations about their papers for display alongside their article on ScienceDirect. If you would like to offer this for your journal, read on...

Do you feel that too much research is being published these days? The answer to that question is usually a whole-hearted “yes” – an answer you will surely recognize. But when the same researchers are asked whether they feel they have published too much lately, that “yes” often becomes a “no”.

What is this telling us? I take this as an indication that researchers are increasingly struggling to keep up with the literature available but, at the same time, want to make sure that their paper gets the attention it deserves. Recent research by Elsevier [1] shows that scientists, on average, spend 9.3 hours per week browsing, searching and reading the literature on offer; that is a substantial portion of their time and it’s not surprising that useful papers are sometimes missed. With the volume of research output continuing to grow, this problem is only going to increase unless new tools are developed that will make it easier for researchers to find the articles most relevant to them.

We believe we can help. In 2011, Elsevier announced the Article of the Future project - a new, online article format offering better support for digital content, and a better online reading experience with a user-friendly, clean presentation.

Research has also shown that, thanks to the new format, readers are able to more efficiently determine if a paper is relevant for them. The biggest time-save (up to 34%) is in identifying and discarding irrelevant papers, which leaves more time to focus on the ones that matter [2].

We are now adding a new feature to the online article that offers a whole new dimension to this process by giving authors the possibility to explain in their own words what their paper is about: AudioSlides.

AudioSlides are brief, five-minute presentations created by the authors of the article using slides (PDF and PowerPoint) and voice-over recordings. This gives authors the opportunity to explain their paper in their own words in an appealing, easily accessible presentation format. The resulting video is displayed alongside the article on ScienceDirect. Authors can share personal insights into their research, highlight the paper’s salient points and, more importantly, explain why the paper is relevant for other researchers. This helps to make the paper stand out from the crowd and attracts readers that are interested in the subject. In particular, it can help to boost appeal to the younger generation of researchers, who have grown up with YouTube and enjoy using this format for learning.

To help authors create AudioSlides presentations, Elsevier has developed an easy-to-use, web-based tool. Authors can log in at any time to upload slides, and record a voice-over per slide. The tool works with all modern browsers, so only a computer, internet connection, and a microphone are required. Authors can make as many recordings as needed, and add, remove, or delete slides until they are happy with the result. AudioSlides is offered as a complimentary service for authors and the presentations will be made freely available on ScienceDirect.

The AudioSlides project was launched as a pilot mid-2012, and the initial response from both authors and readers has been very positive. Authors who have created a presentation tell us that they spend a few hours on it and are happy to recommend it to their peers. Based on this positive feedback, we will be rolling out the AudioSlides service to more titles throughout 2013. If you are interested in offering AudioSlides to your authors and readers, please reach out to us to nominate your journal for fast-track inclusion.

For more information and examples, please visit

[1] Researcher Insights Index - Reading Behaviour; Research & Academic Relations, Elsevier. More than 50,000 individuals were randomly selected from across 1.2 million authors that published in 2009 (source: Scopus). They were approached to complete the study in Jan 2012. There were 4,225 respondents. Data has not been weighted, responses are representative of the Scopus data by discipline and country. Error margin is ± 1.3%, at 90% confidence levels.

[2] IJsbrand Jan Aalbersberg et al., “Elsevier's Article of the Future enhancing the user experience and integrating data through applications”, UKSG Insights 25 (1), March 2012, DOI: 10.1629/2048-7754.25.1.33

Angelina Jokovic

Electronic Signing Introduced for Editorial Contracts

Elsevier introduces a new electronic signature system to the editorial contract process. Find out more…

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Angelina Jokovic | Team Leader Publishing Assistants

Electronic signatures are rapidly becoming an integral part of the business world, accelerating contracting processes and making the status of an agreement clear to all parties involved. So this year we took the decision to introduce an electronic signature system to our own editorial contract process - Adobe EchoSign. This automated service specifically manages the business process of getting contracts signed, tracked and filed. As a global company with editorial contracts needing to be signed in multiple countries, Adobe EchoSign offers a useful alternative to the exchange of print documents, which can be time consuming, error prone and non-transparent. Adobe EchoSign has the added benefit of being eco-friendly.

As an Elsevier Editor, when you are negotiating a new agreement with your Publisher, the stage at which the contract is ready for reviewing and signing is when you will receive an email from Adobe EchoSign. A link in this email will take you directly to your contract and, after you have signed, the contract will automatically be sent onto the next signer. Once all required signatures are complete a copy of the contract will be sent to all signees, including a full audit trail. If you don’t wish to sign your contract via Adobe EchoSign you simply need to inform your Publisher and a print contract will be sent in its place.

We see benefits with this new system for all parties involved. Adobe EchoSign

  • Provides an online audit trail that meets compliance, legal and security requirements.
  • Offers protection to both the sender and the signer during the signing process, including key authentication and privacy, and fraud protection.
  • Reduces the turnaround time of contracts.
  • Eliminates office supply costs.
  • Provides greater transparency for all, at all stages of the contract process.

We have also had positive reactions to Adobe EchoSign from our Editors, with one of our first signers, Victor Paquet, Scientific Editor of Applied Ergonomics, informing us that, “the electronic signature process couldn’t have been any easier from my end!”

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at


Interactive Logo Helps Researchers Decide which Scholarly Content to Trust

“The launch of CrossMark offers a significant benefit to researchers.” Egbert van Wezenbeek, Director Publication Process Development One of the challenges researchers face is a lack of clarity around whether they are consulting the most up-to-date version of an article or research. As an Editor of an Elsevier journal, you work closely with authors and […]

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"The launch of CrossMark offers a significant benefit to researchers." Egbert van Wezenbeek, Director Publication Process Development

One of the challenges researchers face is a lack of clarity around whether they are consulting the most up-to-date version of an article or research.

As an Editor of an Elsevier journal, you work closely with authors and reviewers to ensure that articles have been thoroughly checked prior to publication. However, despite even the most careful scrutiny, corrections, updates and errata, as well as retractions and withdrawals, are sometimes still necessary. The challenge is that many versions of the article may still exist out on the web.

To combat this problem, Elsevier and other Publishers have banded together with CrossRef to create the CrossMark identification service.  By clicking on the CrossMark logos in online PDF or HTML documents, readers can quickly learn the current status of a document.  If the one they have opened is not the most up-to-date, the logo will help them to navigate to the most recent version available.

Often, copies of documents are posted on a variety of sites which can make it more difficult for the Publisher to notify readers when a correction or other change materially affects the interpretation of the work. CrossMark can help with that communication.

How will it work?

Elsevier and other Publishers will display the new logo on journal content that has been assigned a CrossRef DOI. It will only appear on final published versions, not on Articles in Press.

Readers simply need to click on the logo and, if they are connected to the internet, a pop-up box will appear showing the current status of the document. This will work whether the reader is on the Publisher’s website, a third-party site or is viewing a PDF downloaded at an earlier date.

The most common pop-up will be the message that the document is still current. Occasionally, however, readers will discover that the document has updates and a CrossRef DOI will link to the update on the Publisher’s site.

We are aiming to roll this service out to all Elsevier journals. We began piloting it with 40 journals at the end of September and plan to roll it out to 1,250 of our 2,000 journals by the end of the year.  Some journals have unique requirements and Publishers will be reaching out to those journals’ Editors to discuss these in the coming weeks and months.

Egbert van Wezenbeek, Director Publication Process Development, has been responsible for leading the CrossMark project at Elsevier. He commented: “The launch of CrossMark offers a significant benefit to researchers. Not only does it create a standard across scholarly publishing for recognizing changes, it can also highlight important publication record information. This can include publication history, the location of supplementary data, access policies, funding sources, peer-review processes and other useful information.”

Find out more about the Elsevier Policy on CrossMark.

Author Biography

Egbert van Wezenbeek

Egbert van Wezenbeek
Egbert is responsible for the design, development and implementation of improvements to the publication process of journal articles. The aim is to improve the experience of our authors, editors and reviewers in their interaction with us and our systems. We also attempt to adapt and innovate processes so that we are able to add more value to the whole publication process and to the final published articles. Egbert has been working with Elsevier for more than 20 years. Prior to his current role he worked in various positions in Publishing. He has a PhD in Theoretical Chemistry from the Free University Amsterdam.


New Apps Boost Mobile Access to Articles

The way we consume information is changing and one of our key goals at Elsevier is to ensure our journals are ideally placed to meet the mobile access needs of readers. Over the past two years, Elsevier has released a series of tools which: Offer existing subscribers mobile access; make it easier to find and […]

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The way we consume information is changing and one of our key goals at Elsevier is to ensure our journals are ideally placed to meet the mobile access needs of readers.

Over the past two years, Elsevier has released a series of tools which:

  • Offer existing subscribers mobile access;
  • make it easier to find and read journal articles;
  • reach new audiences on devices like iPads; and
  • innovate with new mobile products and services.

Institution-affiliated researchers

The ScienceDirect mobile phone app for Apple and Android devices allows users to search across the full content on the platform, retrieve and read full-text articles, and personalize their reading experience (bookmark articles of interest, forward for later use in research, share articles, etc...). By 2013, all users will also be able to browse by journal name or subject area, to personalize ‘My Journals’, and to receive alerts when new content matches their search query. The same app is also available for the iPad, with the Android tablet version in development.

The Scopus Alerts app (Apple and Android) enables users to create notifications that will keep them up-to-date, e.g., when their paper has been cited or a new paper is published in their area of specialty. They can also annotate and share articles.

The apps are provided at no additional cost and they allow existing journal subscribers to use their previously paid-for services remotely.

In addition, Elsevier has been investing in the main websites for ScienceDirect and Scopus to make them easier to read on mobile device web browsers.

Individual subscribers

All personal subscribers to Health and Medical Science publications can use the Health Advance Journals™ mobile app to browse the latest issues of a journal or search for an article. Personal subscribers to Science & Technology publications can do the same using the Elsevier JournalViewer app, which allows subscribers to selected journals to view abstracts, full texts and PDFs.

The Health Advance Journals™ app, available for both iPad and Android, launched in April this year, and in addition to full-text article viewing, users can pin favorite journals to the app homepage as well as search for, bookmark and share articles.

We have also launched 20 journal-branded native iPad apps through a pilot project. We began by developing a template we could apply to a select group of journals with either a broad personal subscriber base or a substantial affiliated society membership. Now just a year old, the pilot apps, many of which are for leading journals in their medical specialties, have undergone two upgrades and will receive a full redesign of the user interface at the beginning of next year. Available via the iTunes App Store and Apple’s Newsstand for publications, the apps currently allow you to:

  • Browse each new monthly issue;
  • read abstracts and full texts or retrieve the original PDF, including articles published ahead of print;
  • play in-article videos;
  • save articles for offline reading;
  • bookmark key articles and take notes for later;
  • email useful images or articles;
  • post useful articles on your Facebook or Twitter account for colleague awareness;
  • search locally stored content; and
  • sign up for automatic article download via Push Notifications.

A scheduled upgrade will introduce an iPhone version, full-screen reading mode, article swiping, offline storage and reading, and an in-article reference pop-up. In 2013, we plan to apply the lessons we have learned to our new design, ask users for their feedback and then look at extending the pilot.

Elsevier's key mobile apps at a glance

For institutionally-affiliated researchers:

ScienceDirect: Find and read your subscribed Elsevier article or book chapter while you are away from your desk.
iPhone app | Android app

Scopus Alerts: Find articles, create alerts, make notes, and share links instantly.
iPhone and iPad app | Android app

For individual personal subscribers:

Health Advance Journals: Enables full-text reading of more than 500 Elsevier health and medical journals for journal subscribers.                 
iPhone and iPad app
| Android app

Elsevier JournalViewer: Provides access to Elsevier journal content (abstract and full text) to journal Editors and personal subscribers.
iPad app

The Lancet: Offers current subscribers rapid access to recently published content.
iPad app

Cell: Allows you to keep up to date with articles published in Cell Press research journals.
iPhone and iPad app

The Journal of Urology: Keep up with the most important advances in the science and practice of urology.
iPad app

ReactionFlash™: Launched by the Reaxys® team in 2011, this app allows organic chemists to learn about and explore Named Reactions.*
iPhone and iPad app

We plan to keep you up to date with developments via Editors’ Update and other Elsevier channels and we always value your views. You can direct questions/comments about your publication to your Publisher or you are welcome to post comments below.

* Reaxys®, the Reaxys® and ReactionFlash™ trademarks are owned and protected by Reed Elsevier Properties SA. All rights reserved.

Author Biography

Cynthia B Clark

Cynthia B Clark
Cynthia has been with Elsevier for seven years, primarily as product manager for the Health Advance platform. This role affords her the opportunity to support the digital journal business with our global health science publishers and society partners, as well as to help shape the platform development and direction within the larger Elsevier team. Recent projects include managing the operations of our new mobile apps and leading the migration task force of our platform upgrade and migration project. Cynthia loves to solve problems and finds puzzles a challenge. Fortunately, she has opportunities for both in her work.


The Changing Face of Journal Metrics

For several decades now, a principal measure of an article’s impact1 on the scholarly world has been the number of citations it has received. An increasing focus on using these citation counts as a proxy for scientific quality provided the catalyst for the development of journal metrics, including Garfield’s invention of the Impact Factor in […]

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For several decades now, a principal measure of an article's impact1 on the scholarly world has been the number of citations it has received.

An increasing focus on using these citation counts as a proxy for scientific quality provided the catalyst for the development of journal metrics, including Garfield’s invention of the Impact Factor in the 1950s2. Journal level metrics have continued to evolve and refine; for example, relative newcomers SNIP and SJR3 are now used on Elsevier’s Scopus.

In recent years, however, interest has grown in applications at author, institute and country level. These developments can be summarized as follows (see Figure 1):

Figure 1. Types of bibliometric indicators. First, second and third generation reproduced with the permission of Moed & Plume (2011)4, fourth and fifth added by the authors.

The Journal Impact Factor (JIF) was born at a time when there was one delivery route for scholarly articles – paper publications – and computational power was expensive. The migration from paper to electronic delivery (particularly online) has enabled better understanding and analysis of citation count-based impact measurements, and created a new supply of user-activity measurements: page views and downloads.

Over the past few years, the growing importance of social networking - combined with a rising number of platforms making their activity data publicly available - has resulted in new ways of measuring scholarly communication activities: one encapsulated by the term altmetrics5. Although we have added these new metrics to Figure 1, there is no suggestion that superseding generations necessarily replace the earlier ones. In fact, the Relative Impact Measure is still used substantially, even though network analysis exists. The choice of which metric to use is often influenced by the context and question and first, second or third generation metrics may still prove more suitable options.

Although the word altmetrics is still relatively new (not yet three-years-old), several maturing applications already rely on data to give a sense of the wider impact of scholarly research. Plum Analytics is a recent, commercial newcomer, whereas Digital Science's is a better established, partially-commercial solution. A third mature product is ImpactStory (formerly, an always-free, always-open application.

Altmetrics applications acquire the broadest possible set of data about content consumption. This includes HTML page views and PDF downloads, social usage, (e.g. tweets and Facebook comments), as well as more specialized researcher activities, such as bookmarking and reference sharing via tools like Mendeley, Zotero and Citeulike. A list of the data sources used by ImpactStory appears below. As well as counting activities surrounding the full article, there are also figure and data re-use totals. also takes into account mass media links to scholarly articles.

To get a feel for how altmetrics work, you can visit or and enter a publication record. Alternatively, if you have access to Elsevier’s Scopus, you will find many articles already carry an donut in the right hand bar (the donut may not be visible in older versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer). If there is no data yet available, an box will not appear on the page. Elsevier also supplies data to ImpactStory, sending cited-by counts to the web-platform.

Altmetrics donut

Figure 2: An example of the donut which can be found on many Scopus articles. This one, from the paper 'How to Choose a Good Scientific Problem' in Molecular Cell, shows that (at time of writing) the article has been mentioned 89 times on a variety of platforms and saved as a bookmark by more than 4,000 people.

What do all these numbers mean?

Although there is some evidence to link social network activity, such as tweets, with ultimate citation count (Priem & Piwowar et al, 20126, Eysenback, 20117), this field is still in its early stages, and a considerable number of areas still require research. Further investigation aims to uncover patterns and relationships between usage data and ultimate citation, allowing users to discover papers of interest and influence they might previously have failed to notice. Planned areas of research include:

  • Scholarly consumption versus lay consumption. With so much benefit to be gained from encouraging public engagement in science, we need new ways of tracking this. After all, while members of the public are unlikely to cite articles in a formal setting, we may well see increased social sharing. Analysis of usage data might reveal striking differences between scholarly and lay usage patterns. For example, references to research amongst the general public may be primarily driven by mass media references – just as the mass media might be influenced by academic work going viral on Twitter and Facebook: whereas one might hypothesize that activity measured in specialized scholarly tools, such as Mendeley, would be less subject to this influence. This information could be critical in allowing publishers and platform owners to tweak their systems so as to best support use and report on wider usage to funding agencies.
  • When does social networking become marketing and when does it become gaming or cheating? There has been criticism8 that the JIF can be increased by excluding or including reference counts from certain types of articles, and by journals' self-citation policies. Social data is just as prone to influence. For example, while authors' tweets about their papers are perfectly legitimate social marketing of the type previously done through email groups, and while it's reasonable to assume that some mentions of this type will go 'viral' and thus be propelled towards mass media mentions and possibly drive citations, there will inevitably be concerted efforts to build momentum that goes beyond natural self/network marketing. A sophisticated analysis of social networking mapped against author networks might be able to detect and downplay this type of activity.
  • What other factors influence ultimate impact? As we expand our ability to understand what drives scholarly impact and how usage patterns should be interpreted, the scope should increase to include other non-social facets. For example, do cross-discipline papers get a wider readership than simply the disciplines targeted? Do papers with a lay abstract attract a wider lay audience? To what extent does the inclusion of a high-ranking contributor boost citation above what might be predicted?
  • Do any particular consumption activities predicate others? Is there a computable conversion rate for moving from one activity to another? How do these vary over time and by discipline? What activities lead to citation? Are there papers that are less well cited - or not cited at all - that nevertheless appear to have impact in other ways?

Altmetrics is still in its infancy, both as a field of study and a commercial activity. Currently only a handful of smaller organizations are involved and there is no engagement from major web players such as Google or Microsoft. On the publisher front, while all are active with altmetrics in some form, only Macmillan has chosen to get involved via Digital Science's That means there is a great deal to play for. We expect to see more emergent platforms and research, and it's not impossible to envisage the development of professional advisers who work with institutions to increase their altmetrics counts – especially now that impact is increasingly tied to funding decisions (e.g. Government funding in the UK via the Research Excellence Framework).

Elsevier is fully engaged with the altmetrics movement. For example, in 2013 the Elsevier Labs team aims to co-publish large scale research which will begin to explore the relationship between the different facets and to establish a framework for understanding the meaning of this activity. It aims to build on the current work to found an empirically-based discipline that analyses the relationship between social activity, other factors and both scholarly and lay consumption and usage. By working together to combine knowledge at Elsevier, we intend to show that no single measurement can provide the whole picture and that a panel of metrics informed by empirical research and expert opinion is typically the best way to analyze the performance of a journal, an author or an article.

References and useful links

  3. For more information on SNIP and SJR, see Elsevier website and Henk Moed’s interview on the SNIP methodology on YouTube
  4. Moed H  & Plume (2011). The multi-dimensional research assessment matrix. Research Assessment, May 2011(23). Retrieved from Research Trends
  5. More on the altmetrics movement, conferences and workshops may be found at
  6. "Altmetrics in the wild: Using social media to explore scholarly impact”
  7. "Can Tweets Predict Citations? Metrics of Social Impact Based on Twitter and Correlation with Traditional Metrics of Scientific Impact”
  8. Show me the data, Rossner, Van Epps, Hill, J Cell Biol 2007 179:1091-1092. Published December 17, 2007

Author Biographies

Mike Taylor

Mike Taylor
Mike has worked at Elsevier for 16 years. He has been a research specialist in the Labs group for the last four years, and has been involved with ORCID (and previous projects) throughout that time. Mike's other research interests include altmetrics, contributorship and author networks. Details of his research work can be found on

Judith Kamalski

Judith Kamalski
Judith focuses on demonstrating Elsevier’s bibliometric expertise and capabilities by connecting with the research community. She is heavily involved in analyzing, reporting and presenting commercial research performance evaluation projects for academic institutes, as well as governments. Judith has worked within several areas at Elsevier including bibliographic databases, journal publishing, strategy, sales and, most recently, within Research & Academic Relations. Judith has a PhD from Utrecht Institute of Linguistics and holds Masters Degrees in Corporate Communications and French Linguistics & Literature.


New ORCID ID Aims to Resolve Authorship Confusion

An innovative new scheme launched this month could signal the end of concerns over author ambiguity. Since October 16, academics, researchers and contributors can register for a unique ID with ORCID (the Open Researcher and Contributors ID repository). These identifiers can be used by editors, funding agencies, publishers and institutions to reliably identify individuals in […]

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An innovative new scheme launched this month could signal the end of concerns over author ambiguity.

Since October 16, academics, researchers and contributors can register for a unique ID with ORCID (the Open Researcher and Contributors ID repository). These identifiers can be used by editors, funding agencies, publishers and institutions to reliably identify individuals in the same way that ISBNs and DOIs identify books and articles.

What does an ORCID look like?

An ORCID is a 16-digit number which will usually be presented in the form of a web address that leads to the researcher's profile, for example

To register, researchers should visit the ORCID website,, where they can create a complete online record of their research and publications. This is made open and freely available via a web page and data feeds. More importantly, once created a researcher’s unique ORCID can be used as a linking identifier throughout the entire chain of the scholarly communication process to allow reliable attribution of research.

ORCID is freely available to individuals and has an easy-to-use application programming interface (API) to encourage integration with existing systems, development of new tools and to inspire novel uses of the repository data. The advantages of the new ORCID are numerous:

  • Editors will have a one-stop shop for reviewing a contributor’s history and can gain an oversight of an author’s work to date, as well as their professional relationships.
  • Researchers will avoid having to enter biographical and bibliographic data in multiple systems.
  • Institutions and funding bodies will benefit from easier, more reliable analysis of scholarly output.
  • Publishers will enjoy a simplified publication workflow and greater opportunities for product and service development.

Why is ORCID necessary?

ORCID hopes that by creating a registry of unique identifiers for individual researchers, the name ambiguity problems that have hindered the development of interoperable scholarly tools and networks will be solved. Even the inclusion of email data with submissions has only recently become common in the US and Europe, and for articles written in Asia we still rarely receive complete email information. We also face challenges around name distribution, particularly in Asia. According to the 1990 US census, there are 1,713 family names that represent 50% of the population (take a bow, anyone called Spangler, family name number 1,713), whereas in Korea there are three: Kim, Park and Lee.

ORCID and Elsevier

Elsevier is a founding sponsor of ORCID and helped to fund the initiative through donations and loans. We have also contributed significant staff time towards its launch.

We expect to integrate ORCIDs into many of our products and services, including Scopus the world’s largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature. Initially researchers will be able to link their Scopus author profiles with their ORCID records, saving them time when setting up their ORCID profiles and allowing Scopus to automatically keep their ORCID bibliography up to date. Next year, we hope to begin incorporating ORCID data into the Scopus author profiling process to increase the accuracy of the Scopus profiles and automatically propagate work that researchers do to clean up their ORCID profiles. ORCID data will be added to our SciVal products, enabling increased interoperability with your own data.

We are also planning to integrate ORCIDs into the manuscript submission process; this will save authors time when going through the submission process, and enable us to automatically update their bibliographies when articles are published.

Who owns ORCID and will it succeed?

ORCID is a not-for-profit organization founded by academic institutions, professional bodies, funding agencies and publishers. It has been launched with the help of donations, sponsorships and grants from across the scholarly communication sector and will sustain itself through membership fees for institutions and organizational members. ORCID has declared a set of principles committing itself to openness, transparency and the protection of scholars’ privacy.

There have been several earlier attempts to create unified ID systems, none of which have enjoyed the universal adoption essential to become established as a standard: they have either been perceived as proprietary (owned by an organization or corporation and not truly open), have emerged from a specific discipline with particular characteristics, or they have not been truly international.

Altmetrics and ORCID

ImpactStory (formerly is one of ORCID’s launch partners. Currently if you want to receive a report of all the times your publications have been shared via Twitter, Mendeley and other social networks, you must upload a list of all your publications. With ORCID, when you visit, you’ll be able to login and automatically import all your publications using your ORCID profile.

To succeed, ORCID has to build upon the community's experience and, to date, the team behind the repository has worked closely with experts in researcher identification systems from across academia and industry. Looking ahead, ORCIDs are compatible with the ISNI (International Standard Name Identifier). By mutual agreement, ORCIDs and ISNIs will not conflict, so future co-operation is possible.

The computer code that runs ORCID has been released under the MIT Open Source License framework, and is available to anyone for re-use and addition. Public data in the repository will be deposited with partners on a regular basis. We hope that the cross-community structure, the open and international nature of the organization, data, interface and code, and the guarantee of permanence will establish ORCID as the standard in scholarly IDs.

Organizations participating in the ORCID Launch Partners Program include:

  • The American Physical Society
  • Aries Systems
  • Avedas
  • Boston University School of Medicine
  • The California Institute of Technology
  • CrossRef
  • Elsevier
  • Faculty of 1000
  • Figshare
  • Hindawi
  • JMIR Publications
  • Nature Publishing Group
  • SafetyLit
  • Symplectic
  • Thomson Reuters Scholar One Manuscripts
  • Thomson Reuters ResearcherID
  • ImpactStory
  • The Wellcome Trust

How will an ORCID help me?

Many organizations have announced tools and applications that interface with the ORCID repository. Participating in the ORCID Launch Partners Program are research institutions, publishers, research funders, data repositories, and third party providers.

Key features of the ORCID Registry

  • Researchers and scholars can register for an ORCID identifier, create ORCID records, and manage their privacy settings.
  • ORCID holds records created by universities on behalf of their researchers and scholars. Researchers and scholars can link their ORCID identifier record data with external systems including Scopus and ResearcherID.
  • ORCID links to a number of author profile and manuscript submission systems, facilitating researchers’ and scholars’ creation of ORCID records. Systems that already offer integrated ORCID Identifiers include the American Physical Society, Aries Systems, Hindawi, Nature Publishing Group, and Scholar One Manuscripts.
  • Researchers and scholars can search and upload publication metadata from CrossRef.

ORCID will also soon have the ability to link to grant application systems and add book and data records.

More than 280 organizations already participate in the ORCID initiative. Academic institutions form the largest group; other participants include publishers, scholarly societies, and corporate, non-profit, government, or other organizations. (Source:

Coming next...

The next year will be an exciting time for ORCID. With a major release already in the pipeline and developer days planned, we expect to see increasing integration across the scholarly community, with ORCID data being used to power CV / resume / grant application forms automatically, and with connections being built to institutional systems and research tools.

We hope that the community will benefit from the work that has been invested in ORCID to date, and that you will join us on

Author Biographies

Mike Taylor

Mike Taylor
Mike has worked at Elsevier for 16 years. He has been a research specialist in the Labs group for the last four years, and has been involved with ORCID (and previous projects) throughout that time. Mike's other research interests include altmetrics, contributorship and author networks. Details of his research work can be found on

Chris Shillum

Chris Shillum
Chris is responsible for the platform and systems which power online products such as ScienceDirect and Scopus. He has worked in various capacities on ScienceDirect since its inception in 1997, and currently represents Elsevier on a number of industry organization boards, including ORCID, CrossRef and the International DOI Foundation. Chris holds a Masters in Electronic Systems Engineering from the University of York in the UK.


Webinar: Article of the Future and the Interactive Map viewer on ScienceDirect

Of interest to: Journal editors and authors, particularly in social sciences and earth and planetary sciences fields Archive views to date: 145+ Average feedback: 4.1 out of 5

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Of interest to: Journal editors and authors, particularly in social sciences and earth and planetary sciences fields
Archive views to date: 145+
Average feedback: 4.1 out of 5


Winners of Elsevier’s Mobile Application Competition announced

We asked for your ideas for mobile applications which would help authors to submit their papers. The winners have now been announced…

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Lyndsay Scholefield | Senior Marketing Communications Manager, Elsevier

During April-May 2012, Elsevier invited researchers to take part in the Elsevier Mobile Application Competition. Researchers were asked to submit ideas for mobile applications that would help authors to submit their papers. Specifically we were looking for application ideas that are journal-based. The competition was open all authors, regardless of whether they had published with Elsevier or not.

We received an overwhelming response of over 3,700 entries from authors publishing across the breadth of Elsevier's Science and Technology journal portfolios. Our panel of judges faced a challenging task to select only two winners from the high quality entries we received.

We are delighted to announce that we now have two winners of the competition and we are able to provide you with a snapshot of their innovative ideas:

Peter Willemsen

1st Place (Scope-finder)

Prize Apple® iPad 3rd Generation 16GB™, Wi-Fi model (ARV US$599)

By Dr Peter (T J) Willemsen, Research Scientist (Molecular Microbiology), Central Veterinary Institute of Wageningen University & Research centre in Lelystad, The Netherlands.

"Scope-finder" is an application allowing users to select keywords and then apply different weights (with a slider) to find the best fitting journal for submitting a paper.


Paul Andrewes

Runner up (Heat-map - Citations and Article Downloads)

Prize® Gift Card (US$100)

By Dr Paul Andrewes, Senior Research Scientist, Fonterra Cooperative Group Limited, Palmerston North, New Zealand.

There are few tools available for scientists to understand the trends in their fields. This application is an idea for a "heat-map" to show what articles, authors, or subjects a given field are generating the most attention (citations, and article downloads).

Journal of Public Economics

Refereeing Behavior and the Determinants of Altruism

The Editors of the Journal of Public Economics conducted an innovative experiment into how we can motivate pro-social behavior. Here they share their findings…

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Raj Chetty, Emmanuel Saez and László Sándor | Editors, Journal of Public Economics

Study Overview

Raj Chetty

Raj Chetty

We chose to collaborate with Elsevier on a study into how we can motivate pro-social behavior. Timely and useful refereeing work is usually understood to be a favor to colleagues, an unpaid but important task for the profession. As such, it is a good candidate for comparing financial incentives with other more inexpensive alternatives, in situations where the work benefits the public more than it rewards the worker.

The study has highlighted some key factors:

  • Deadlines are extremely effective.
  • Moderate financial incentives invoke a large response.
  • Public comparison to peers has a moderate effect.
  • There are different effects when looking at younger referees in comparison to established tenured ones.
  • There is no backlash when financial rewards are missing or phased out.

Conducting the Experiment

In 2010, we randomly assigned approximately 1,000 referees to one of four groups:

  • A control group with the usual 6-week due date.
  • A short deadline group with a 4-week due date.
  • A cash incentive group where a $100 payment was made for reports submitted by the shorter deadline.
  • A social incentive group where referees’ turnaround times were publicly posted on the journal’s website.
Emmanuel Saez

Emmanuel Saez

Always following the same process the majority of referees received multiple invitations throughout the study, which ended in November 2011. Using data retrieved from the Elsevier Editorial System (EES), the team studied refereeing times both before and after the experiment, as well as comparing times to other Elsevier journals. The differing approaches had small but significant impacts on whether referees agree to review a paper, but do not appear to have generated differential selection. The shorter deadline, of a 4-week due date, reduced turnaround times by an average of 10 days. The cash offer doubled this effect, further reducing referee times by an additional 10 days and the social incentive treatment reduced turnaround times by approximately 5 days. Less surprising in hindsight is that the study showed that tenured professors are most responsive to social pressure, while untenured referees are most responsive to deadlines and cash offers.

The study also showed that a common misgiving about financial incentives -- that they may crowd out intrinsic (or altruistic) motivation -- does not appear to apply here. Referees are no slower at concurrent or later unpaid jobs. Finally, all the approaches show modest impacts on the quality (length) of reports, the recommendations of the referees and/or the final decision of the editors.

Presenting the study

Laszlo Sandor

László Sándor

This study was presented at the National Tax Association Annual Conference in November 2011 and will be part of a session on journals and academic publishing at the Summer Institute of the National Bureau of Economic Research in July 2012. The session will be attended by editors of leading journals, who may decide to re-evaluate their own journal's policies based on the evidence from this innovative experiment conducted by the research team, along with Elsevier.

This article first appeared in Reviewers' Update, Issue 11, July 2012.


Exploring Improvements to the Peer-Review System

Peer review has a long history; it has been a part of scientific communication since the appearance of the first journals in the 1660s. The Royal Philosophical Transactions is accredited as being the first journal to introduce peer review. Each year more than 1.3 million learned articles are published in peer-reviewed journals. Such is its […]

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Peer review has a long history; it has been a part of scientific communication since the appearance of the first journals in the 1660s. The Royal Philosophical Transactions is accredited as being the first journal to introduce peer review.

Each year more than 1.3 million learned articles are published in peer-reviewed journals. Such is its importance that according to Ziman (1968)1 it is ‘the lynchpin about which the whole business of science is pivoted.’

However, the expansion of the global research community and the year on year increase in the number of papers published means the pressure on the peer-review system has grown. Moreover, as the pressure has increased, so too has the volume of those questioning peer review’s effectiveness.  Some are worried by bias and are concerned it is not objective, others are anxious about the length of time it takes for an article to go through the peer-review process and some worry about its efficiency. Richard Smith2, former Editor of the BMJ, said the following about peer review in 2006:

“.. it is slow, expensive, profligate of academic time, highly subjective, something of a lottery, prone to bias, and easily abused.”

In response to the perceived challenges, peer review has evolved and continues to do so. Working with you, the Editor, we hope to be able to improve and streamline the peer-review process, ultimately easing the burden on both reviewers and Editors. In this article, we take a closer look at initiatives in Elsevier that tackle some of the challenges in peer review and evaluate the progress of some of these pilots.

Peer Review Grand Challenge

Running from March to May 2012, this web-based Challenge invited submissions on any aspect that could significantly add to the current peer-review system. Entries could range from designing a completely new system, to working within an existing peer-review method (like the single blind system).

The Challenge also welcomed entries that explored how publishers and Editors can help early career researchers become reviewers, or how reviewers can be recognized by either their institutes or publishers.

The entry phase of the Challenge closed on 7th May and the judges are now going through the submissions to pick out up to 10 finalists, whose ideas will be posted on the Challenge website.  We will be inviting comments from the community on these ideas before the judges make their final decisions, taking into account any relevant community comments. Please do check the Peer Review Challenge website from 12th June onwards for details of the finalists!

For more information on this initiative, please contact Clare Lehane, Executive Publisher, STM Publishing,

Cascading of manuscripts

Figure 1. The Article Transfer Service at a glance.

As an Editor, you may frequently be confronted with manuscripts that are out of scope or are simply not suitable for the journal; however, they still contain sound research. With this in mind, we have developed the complementary Article Transfer Service (ATS) which allows the paper to be moved to a more appropriate journal. Currently, Editors within the fields of Pharma Sciences, Physics and Immunology, are able to offer authors this option and, if the author agrees, we can promptly transfer the manuscript on their behalf.

Key advantages of the Article Transfer Service:

  • Editors can make faster, more informed decisions on manuscripts;
  • authors receive faster decisions without the need to reformat or resubmit;
  • reviewers benefit from a lighter burden due to a reviewer sharing policy where reviews have already taken place; and
  • authors can publish in a journal that maximizes the impact of their research.

Results so far:

  • Editors have offered to transfer up to 35% of rejected manuscripts and up to 35% of offered transfers have been taken up by authors.
  • Up to 20% of those transfers have been accepted by the receiver journals.

We also surveyed a number of participants in the ATS scheme and discovered the following:

  • 67% of Editors think that the ATS benefits the authors, while 75% agree that having reviewer reports is beneficial.
  • 55% of authors are active promoters of the scheme.
  • 86% of the reviewers are willing to recommend an alternative journal to the Editor.

For more information on this pilot, please contact John Lardee, Senior Project Manager, Publishing Services,

The Reviewer Guidance Program

From feedback we know that reviewers, especially those new to the task, would value more guidance on how to peer review. This program, which is still in the developmental stages, has been created to answer that need and will consist of both theory and hands-on practice.

Theory: By attending a Reviewer Workshop, participants will be introduced to the concept and background of peer review as well as peer-review fundamentals, publication ethics and the role of a reviewer. They will also examine a specific case study. Reviewer Workshops have been taking place for a while now and participants have told us that they feel more confident after attending one. Since it is not always possible to physically attend a workshop, we are now looking into the possibility of offering a distance learning (online) alternative.

“The Reviewer Guidance Program is not only an experience that helps early career researchers become better reviewers, but also to be more critical in analyzing their own papers before submitting. In addition, this is a great opportunity for junior scientists to network with their more senior peers.” Irene Kanter-Schlifke

Hands-on practice under mentorship: This part of the Reviewer Guidance Program aims to provide participants with the experience of independently reviewing at least two manuscripts inside a specially-created EES (Elsevier Editorial System). Each trainee is supported by a mentor who discusses the reviews with them and gives feedback and guidance. The mentor finally decides when a trainee has gained enough experience to start reviewing live manuscripts. After the program, each trainee receives a certificate of participation from Elsevier. We began piloting this module at the end of last year and the first feedback is promising. One trainee commented: “I’m now more familiar with rating papers and I’m more critical when I read papers.” The mentors involved in this module, often journal Editors, also see the benefits of this initiative; one remarked: “This module is a nice opportunity to learn how to efficiently review manuscripts. Often junior scientists have no idea how it works. As well, they can better understand how their manuscripts will be reviewed.”

During the Reviewer Guidance Program we will guide participants in how to write review reports in such a way that they answer the needs of both the Editor and the author. Another expected benefit is that the program should contribute to increasing the number of trusted – and usually enthusiastic – reviewers available for Editors to call on. Irene Kanter-Schlifke is a Publisher for Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences and is closely involved in the pilot. She adds: “The Reviewer Guidance Program is not only an experience that helps early career researchers become better reviewers, but also to be more critical in analyzing their own papers before submitting. In addition, this is a great opportunity for junior scientists to network with their more senior peers.”

If you are interested in organizing a Reviewer Workshop at your institute, please contact your publisher.

Results so far: We are currently evaluating feedback and expect to do a further pilot in due course.

For more information on this program, please contact Irene Kanter-Schlifke, Publisher Pharmacology & Pharmaceutical Sciences, STM Publishing,, or Angelique Janssen, Project Manager, Publishing Services,

Published reviewer reports

Reviewers play such a vital role in the peer-review process yet their contribution often remains hidden. In addition, open reviewer reports increase peer-review transparency and assist good articles to gain authority. With that in mind, we thought why not publish reviewer reports alongside the final article on SciVerse ScienceDirect?

At the beginning of this year, we began doing just that on the journal Agricultural and Forest Meteorology.

We know from the feedback we have received that Editors welcome such a public acknowledgement of reviewers’ contributions, and we hope this step will enhance the quality of the review reports and help to capture / attract good reviewers for the journal.

How does it work?

Both authors and reviewers for the journal are informed about the new process and reviewers can indicate whether they want their name disclosed on ScienceDirect. Editors then decide if the reviewer reports are appropriate to publish alongside the article as supplementary material.

Results so far: The pilot launch attracted positive international media attention. It was also suggested that open reviewer reports could play a useful role in training early career researchers as reviewers.  So far, reviewer reports have been published alongside around 13 manuscripts.

For more information on this pilot, please contact Gilles Jonker, Executive Publisher, Physical Sciences,

Open peer commentary format

In this pilot, we have asked experienced researchers to submit a one page comment on a (review) article for the journal Physics of Life Reviews. These comments are published in the same issue as the article. On average, five comments are published with the article and the author can write a rebuttal article.

Figure 2. An example of an article with open peer commentary in SciVerse ScienceDirect.

Results so far: Since the pilot was launched in January 2010, the journal has seen an increase in papers (2011 - 85 and 2010 - 74; previously the journal received around 12 papers per year). There has also been a sharp increase in usage – roughly 3,000 downloads per month compared to 2,000 per month in 2009.

For more information please contact Charon Duermeijer, Publishing Director Physics,


Traditionally in peer review, Editors have chosen to approach reviewers they consider are suitably qualified to comment on a manuscript, or who would find the subject matter interesting.

But what if the reviewer could select the manuscript themselves? For a year now, we have been experimenting with this additional peer-review system on the journal Chemical Physics Letters. Each week, a selected pool of reviewers receives an overview of the new submissions. If they like a paper because it matches their expertise and interest, they can decide to review it. Because they make the decision themselves, we ask them to review the manuscript within a week.

Martin Tanke, Managing Director of Elsevier’s STM Journals, explains: “The 2009 Peer Review Survey, which we conducted with our partner Sense About Science, showed that a significant number of reviewers were sometimes hesitant to review an article because of a lack of expertise in that particular field. In addition, researchers made clear they want to improve peer review by improving article relevancy and speeding up turnaround time. PeerChoice can contribute to solving both issues.”

Figure 3. An example of the email overview a reviewer receives.

Results so far: The time taken to review the manuscript has been slightly reduced, while the time taken to accept an invitation has been halved.

For more information on this pilot, please contact Egbert van Wezenbeek, Director Publication Process Development, Publishing Services,

All these pilots have been launched with one aim in mind; to support and improve the peer-review process to the benefit of Editors, authors and reviewers.

We would love to hear your thoughts on these new approaches and your suggestions for improvements. If you have a story you would like to share, you can post it on our new Short Communications bulletin board.

1 Ziman, J.M. (1968), Public Knowledge: an essay concerning the social development of science. London: Cambridge University Press.

2 Smith, R. Peer Review: A Flawed Process at the Heart of Science and Journals. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine April 2006 99.4: 178–182.

Related links:

Author Biographies

John Lardee

John Lardee
For the last 15 years, John has been involved in managing projects to improve author, Editor and reviewer experiences with Elsevier’s products and services. Recent projects include the Article Transfer Service and the Find Reviewer Tool. John’s approach to project management is an agile one: “To develop services and products iteratively together with our Editors, authors and reviewers”. John has a Master of Science in Informatics from the Technical University of Delft.

Adrian Mulligan

Adrian Mulligan
Adrian has 14 years of experience in STM publishing. The last 10 years he has spent in research have given him the unique opportunity to study the scholarly community. Recently, in partnership with Sense About Science, Adrian worked on a large scale study that examined attitudes of researchers towards peer review. He has presented on peer review at various conferences, including STM, ESOF, AAP and APE.  Adrian’s background is in archaeology with a BA Honours degree and a Master of Science from Leicester University. He also has a diploma in Market Research from the Market Research Society.


Elsevier Peer Review Challenge is Now Open for Entries!

On March 28th, Elsevier launched the ‘How do you see the future of peer review?’ challenge. We hope that this challenge will help inform the ongoing discussions on peer review.

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Clare Lehane | Executive Publisher, Energy & Planetary Sciences, Elsevier

On Wednesday 28th March, Elsevier launched the How do you see the future of peer review? challenge.  The aim of the challenge is to invite our reviewing community to submit ideas on any of the following three aspects of the peer review system (for journals):

  • The peer review process itself – new approaches or enhancements of current approaches
  • Approaches to help early career researchers to become reviewers
  • Improving the recognition and rewarding of reviewers by their institutions and/or journal publishers

The challenge website will remain open to entries until midnight on Monday 7th May, 2012 (CET).

We will work with the overall winners of the challenge to determine if their idea could be piloted with a suitable Elsevier journal, and in cooperation with the editors of that pilot journal. The winning ideas will be announced around 15th August via the challenge website. 

We hope that this challenge will help inform the ongoing discussions on peer review and help us, as your publishing partners, to work more closely with the reviewing community.

You are welcome to forward this challenge announcement to your colleagues and editorial network to encourage submissions.

Kelvin Davies

Your Paper, Your Way!

Imagine if contributors could submit their papers to a journal without worrying about formatting the manuscript. Kelvin Davies, Editor-in-Chief of Free Radical Biology & Medicine introduces ‘Your Paper, Your Way’.

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Kelvin J A Davies, PhD, DSc | Editor-in-Chief, Free Radical Biology & Medicine

Imagine if contributors could submit their papers to a journal without worrying about formatting the manuscript, including those pesky references, to exacting specifications? Well that’s precisely what we at Free Radical Biology & Medicine have invited authors to do. Since July of 2011, we have encouraged contributors to submit ‘Your Paper, Your Way.’

As fellow scientists, I and my associate editors of Free Radical Biology & Medicine wondered why journals make people spend so much time and effort formatting their entire paper for submission, especially when it’s a journal with extremely high rejection rates. Although standard formats do make it just that little bit easier for editors and reviewers to see everything in the correct style, the reality is that the advantage is very small, and we should really be focusing on the quality of science and not the format. For authors the difference is very significant. Just think of all the time contributors spend doing secretarial formatting work on a paper, only to have it rejected immediately and be forced to repeat the whole process again for the next journal to which they submit their paper. An easier submission process not only saves time and effort but may also allow authors to achieve faster publication speeds.

In initiating ‘Your Paper, Your Way,’ Free Radical Biology & Medicine decided to invite all authors to submit their manuscripts as single PDF files, including all figures, figure legends, and references.  Of course, all scientific papers need to include the following key elements: title, abstract, introduction, materials & methods, results, discussion (or results and discussion combined), references, and figures and figure legends. Contributors can use whatever layout style suits them best, however, including references.  All we ask is that the paper has all the key elements, is legible, and that all figures are of sufficiently high quality to permit proper review.  If we don’t accept a paper, the authors will have saved valuable time and effort. If we do accept a paper we then have the authors format their work to fit the Free Radical Biology & Medicine style, but they really don’t mind at that point. Elsevier automatically actually converts any reference style to that of our journal at the time of acceptance, as long as the references contain all the normal information, including the paper title.

In addition to creating a ‘friendlier’ journal for scientists, ‘Your Paper, Your Way’ also allows us to capture scientifically excellent papers that almost made it into one of the top flight generalist journals, but were considered too specialist to be accepted; the authors don’t have to re-format their paper to then submit it to our specialist Free Radical Biology & Medicine journal.

As of January 2012, half a year after initiating ‘Your Paper, Your Way,’ approximately 50% of all the papers we receive now take advantage of this simplified submission system. We have not had any complaints from reviewers about the new system, and many authors have sent us letters of thanks and praise for the ease and simplicity of Your Paper, Your Way.’ The editors of Free Radical Biology & Medicine think that ‘Your Paper, Your Way’ represents a return to common sense and a genuine renewed focus on the rights and needs of authors. It also benefits our journal in numerous ways.  We look forward to seeing others try the ‘Your Paper, Your Way’ approach.

Elizabeth Przybysz

Is Reference Formatting Really so Important?

Do you believe that a new approach to references could make our authors’ lives easier? Elizabeth Przybysz would like to hear your views.

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Elizabeth Przybysz | Project Manager, Journal Development, Elsevier

Challenging publishing dogmas in the e-leading era

According to the National Information Standards Organization1, references perform two essential functions in research and publishing: they ensure that credit is given to the people and organizations whose previous works have contributed to that research, and they enable users of the references to uniquely identify and locate the original data and source the materials used.

What does this mean in today’s world? Fewer and fewer libraries and individuals subscribe to a print version of a journal. Even when libraries maintain a print version, readers access journals electronically. Some may still consult the source cited by visiting a local library, but the vast majority expect to have instant access to cited sources via linking services (such as CrossRef, PubMed, Scopus, or Web of Science) from the journal content platform provided through their institute.

The importance of these linking services does not end there. They monitor and analyze the online traffic, providing information on how many citations an article or an author has received. This not only ensures that the appropriate credit is given to an author of the cited material, but can also measure the importance of that research using various metrics (e.g. total citations, h-index). To provide an accurate picture, it is vital that all references can be tracked and that all sources are accounted for. This can only be guaranteed if an author, preparing the references, provides all the relevant metadata required by the linking services.

Reference formatting becomes irrelevant

Elsevier titles currently follow one of 10 standard styles, conforming to either the numbered or name/date master style; except for approximately 300 titles that follow their own non-standard style. All of these are legacy styles from the print era. Journals follow a particular style used within a scientific community or as a result of an editor’s personal choice. A non-standard reference style can certainly make the journal visually distinctive. However, none of these styles provides the optimal information for the linking services, with negative consequences on the discoverability of articles and authors in the online world. Elsevier has decided it is time to review the references styles from the point of view of meeting linking services requirements.


Reference styles in journals published by Elsevier

We discovered that some of the formatting requirements may work against effective linking, or are completely irrelevant. Nevertheless, the reader experience may call for their continued inclusion.

For example:

  • the Vancouver style presents authors’ initials without a full stop, whereas a full stop is required by linking services to distinguish between multiple authors of an article;
  • journal titles are not used to match references across databases, however, this information helps the reader put the reference in context; the various abbreviations models may be confusing to the authors and the readers;
  • 1a Numbered & 1c Alphanumeric styles forbid the use of the article titles. This solution was designed in order to reduce the space consumed by the references, a factor irrelevant in virtual reality; and
  • none of the styles emphasise the importance of DOIs, e-identifiers or URLs – a metadata type which on its own is sufficient to create a link.

A new approach to references will make our authors’ lives easier

According to E C Friedberg writing in Nature in 20052, most authors perceive “coping with the multitude of formats imposed by academic journals for citing references to the literature as aggravating and labour-intensive experience (...) What difference can it possibly make if an author’s initials are placed before or after his/her surname, or where exactly in the citation the date of a publication is situated— not to mention the myriad variations of required fonts, italics, colons, commas and full stops?”.

At Elsevier, we have already agreed that we should never return a manuscript for amendments on the basis of the references not following a particular style. We would prefer to focus authors’ attention on providing and checking the key metadata for linking rather than prompt them to check the correct abbreviation of the journal title.

The challenge in this case is: as long as the author provides the basic information needed to hyperlink the references, and does so consistently throughout their article, why don’t we instigate across all (Elsevier) titles, just two standard reference styles, one numbered and one name/date?

In some cases, a unique reference style may be required for the journal to be a part of a closed research community or scholarly society, and these exceptions will be honored. The reference style may be one of the features that render the journal’s visual style distinctive, but should it take precedence over article discoverability and author visibility?

Creating a more modern reference style is just one of the projects Elsevier is undertaking to make the publishing experience more author-friendly. Several other projects are underway to review the range of journal-specific style requirements currently in place at the different stages of publication. They are being challenged for their added value to the presented research, their relevance in the e-leading era, and their effect on publication times.

Back in 2005, when Friedberg - at the time Editor of the journal DNA Repair - raised a “Call for a cull of pointlessly different reference styles” 2, to his disappointment there was not much reaction from other editors.

We are asking you now, as editors, to enter into the discussion – please post your thoughts or comments here, we would really like your feedback.


1 National Information Standard Organization, 09 June 2005 (cited 20 February2012) available:

2 E C Friedberg, Call for a cull of pointlessly different reference styles, Nature (2005) 1232


What is YOUR Journal’s Content Innovation?

At Elsevier, Content Innovation projects like the Article of the Future are all about meeting the change in academic research output…but we can’t do that unless you tell us what YOU need.

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IJsbrand Jan Aalbersberg | Senior Vice President, Journal & Content Technology, Elsevier

Today’s research increasingly uses electronic tools to generate and capture its output, in many more formats than just text and images. In order to meet this change in behavior of the academic community and use these tools and data in research communication as well, we need to adapt and improve the research article. This is what Content Innovation at Elsevier is all about.

The ongoing Article of the Future project set Elsevier’s online article redesign in motion, and developed an infrastructure to implement discipline-specific Content Innovation applications. Today’s article experience on SciVerse ScienceDirect means easier reading and navigation, including applications that enrich the publication with interactive content and additional contextual information.

To give you an idea of what the Article of the Future project is about, and where we are heading, take a look at the video below.

We’ve already added various discipline-specific apps like including and presenting chemistry MOL files, providing fully annotated and interactive geographical maps, and a fully interactive Protein Viewer. However, what we’d like to know from you is:

What Content Innovation do YOU need to make YOUR journal more valuable?

To give you an idea of the sort of innovations already introduced, let's take a closer look at one of them: Google Maps.

Elsevier has recently rolled out support for Interactive Maps to 80+ journals in subject areas ranging from Archaeology to Social Economics, and from Oceanography to Earth Observations. Utilizing Google Maps, this application enriches online articles on SciVerse ScienceDirect with an interactive map that presents the author’s research data in a visual, easily accessible, and interactive manner. This helps the reader to quickly appreciate the relevance of the presented research, and to build a deeper understanding of the data through interactive exploration – all in the context of the research article.

The Interactive Map viewer works with KML files that are uploaded by the authors using the regular EES submission system. Because KML is a very common data format, authors can use a choice of their preferred Geographic Information System applications software to create these files. Elsevier will then generate interactive maps from the submitted KML files and include these in the online article.

More information and instructions are available on

Check out our website for inspiration, and work with us in developing the discipline-specific Content Innovation for YOUR journal. All discussions and suggestions are welcome and can be passed on to your publishing contact.



Article of the Future Project Enters New Phase

“We get feedback…that new content elements like these are very useful and do help in better and more quickly digesting the research being presented.” IJsbrand Jan Aalbersberg, Vice President Content Innovation As we reach the end of 2011, Elsevier’s innovative Article of the Future project is embarking on an important new chapter in its development. […]

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"We get feedback...that new content elements like these are very useful and do help in better and more quickly digesting the research being presented." IJsbrand Jan Aalbersberg, Vice President Content Innovation

As we reach the end of 2011, Elsevier’s innovative Article of the Future project is embarking on an important new chapter in its development.

The project aims to revolutionize the traditional format of academic papers with regard to three key elements: presentation, content and context.

To achieve this, a three-pane article view has been proposed, which separates navigation (left pane) and value-added enhancements (right pane) from the core article (middle pane).

What is Article of the Future?

Article of the Future is an innovation project geared towards enhancing the online article to support researchers in communicating their work in the electronic era. The aims of this ongoing project are:

  • to provide authors with the best possible place to digitally disseminate scientific research, and
  • to increase value to readers by providing an environment that offers an optimal reading experience, making it possible to build deep insights quickly.

Three core elements of the article – presentation, content and context - will be rolling out this year and throughout 2012.


This next phase in the project’s journey will see the left and middle panes released on SciVerse ScienceDirect, with a focus on the presentation element.

In Issue 32 of Editors’ Update in June, we profiled the Article of the Future website where 13 prototypes are available to view. Visitors to the site are also encouraged to share their thoughts on the new design in a survey.

So far, more than 700 researchers have taken part in this survey. Their suggestions have been combined with the feedback of the 150 researchers who were consulted throughout the development stages. A clear theme emerging is that while researchers like all the domain-specific advances that technology can add to a paper, they also want to be free to focus on the core message in that paper. This has led the Article of the Future team to further refine the middle reading pane to offer readers a spacious and uncluttered view, improving on the current online HTML article available on SciVerse ScienceDirect.

The HTML article currently hosted on SciVerse ScienceDirect.

Figure 1: The HTML article currently hosted on SciVerse ScienceDirect.

The new, easier-to-read Article of the Future layout.

Figure 2: The new, easier-to-read Article of the Future layout. The left and center panes will be rolled out shortly.

Hylke Koers, Content Innovation Manager, explains: “The main objective of this presentation-focused release is to introduce the best possible online reading experience in regards to typography and layout, using lessons learned from the PDF to bring the readability advantages that such a style offers to the web.”

According to IJsbrand Jan Aalbersberg, Vice President Content Innovation for Science & Technology Journals, the improvements to the presentation aspect of the Article of the Future also pave the way for future developments. He says: “A cleaner presentation is needed in order to take advantage of the content and context enhancements that have yet to be rolled out.”


Though the upcoming SciVerse ScienceDirect release will focus mainly on presentation, enhancing article content is the key theme of the Article of the Future project. The aim is to increasingly enrich the value of research articles by including new and interactive content elements, mostly discipline-specific and key to the scientist’s research and workflow. In the last few months we have already introduced a number of such content enrichments, with many more to come.

The most recent examples are Genome Viewer, Protein Interaction Viewer and Google Maps Viewer (see figure 3). “We get feedback from our community that new content elements like these are very useful and do help in better and more quickly digesting the research being presented,” says Aalbersberg.

The Google Maps Viewer as currently available on SciVerse ScienceDirect.

Figure 3: The Google Maps Viewer as currently available on SciVerse ScienceDirect.

What you can expect

These and upcoming content enhancements provide a number of benefits to authors, which in turn will improve the ‘user experience’ for journals and their readers. Those benefits include:The ability to share new forms of research output – multimedia, interactive data, computer code, enriched visualizations, etc…Inline support of rich files, such as MOL files for chemical structures or KML files for geographically organized data.

Optimal opportunities to expose research, putting it in front of readers in a way that allows them to develop deep insights more efficiently, for example using Google Maps.We are always keen to hear what new content elements editors would find useful in journal articles.  If you have an idea you would like to share, please let us know. You can email IJsbrand Jan Aalbersberg at


The third core element of the Article of the Future project is context and we are improving that in multiple ways. The trend of storing research data sets at external data repositories is gaining ground and we support this by linking entities and articles to those repositories. As the article is not a one-way street, rather a roundabout that serves to connect with other sources of scientific information on the web, it’s important that information from trusted sources can be displayed alongside the online article.

“We are particularly keen to work together with data set repositories to establish connections between articles (the scholarly record) and underlying (or otherwise relevant) research data as there are numerous advantages to both author and reader,” Aalbersberg adds.

Researchers sometimes prefer independent data repositories over publisher websites as they benefit from domain-specific coordination and organization. Connecting data and articles helps to increase visibility, discoverability and usage both ways, while providing context to the data and avoiding misinterpretation and incorrect usage. Elsevier believes that raw research data should be freely accessible to researchers, and demonstrates this via entity and article linking, and the use of SciVerse applications for linking.

  • Entity Linking: making links between entities mentioned in the article (e.g., proteins or standards – there is a range of possibilities) to relevant information about that entity (example:  Protein Data Bank for proteins and a standard database for standards).
  • Article Linking: making links between an article as a whole and entries in a data repository – like an experimental data set underlying the research presented in the article or curated data from the research article (e.g. CCDC, EarthChem).
  • Applications: pulling data from a data repository into the article and bringing that to the reader to explore in the context of the article – often with some form of interactivity (e.g. information on genes is pulled from the NCBI GenBank, and is shown alongside the article).

Elsevier is applying this contextual data linking by working with many different repositories, including PANGAEA, CCDC, NCBI, PDB, and (recently added) EarthChem.

As an editor of an Elsevier journal, what database would you like to see connected to your journal article content?  If you know of one that is widely used and recognized, and well-organized and maintained, we would be interested in adding it to the program. Help us to increase the extent and impact of this initiative and benefit your journal and its readers by contacting IJsbrand Jan Aalbersberg at

As we prepare to introduce both readers and authors to the next phase of the Article of the Future journey, our sights are already set on 2012, when ongoing content enhancements will follow the upcoming release of the new presentation style. Expect to hear more from us during the upcoming year!

Author Biography

IJsbrand Jan Aalbersberg

IJsbrand Jan Aalbersberg

IJsbrand Jan Aalbersberg
From 1999-2002, IJsbrand Jan served as the Vice President of Technology at Elsevier Engineering Information (Hoboken, USA). As Technology Director for Science & Technology from 2002-2005, he was one of the initiators of Scopus, responsible for its publishing-technology connection. In 2006, he switched his focus as Technology Director to Elsevier’s Corporate Markets. Since taking on the role of Vice President Content Innovation in 2009, he has strived to help scientists communicate research in ways they weren’t able to do before. IJsbrand Jan holds a PhD in Theoretical Computer Science.

Related Links

Building a Blueprint for a New Publishing Future

Building a Blueprint for a New Publishing Future

“…it is fair to say that the format of scholarly communications is, at this mid-point in the digital revolution, in an ill-defined transitional state — a ‘horseless carriage’…” Anita de Waard, Disruptive Technologies Director, Elsevier Labs This summer, together with a group of well-known academics, Elsevier Labs co-organized a Perspectives workshop at Dagstuhl Castle in […]

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" is fair to say that the format of scholarly communications is, at this mid-point in the digital revolution, in an ill-defined transitional state — a ‘horseless carriage’..." Anita de Waard, Disruptive Technologies Director, Elsevier Labs

This summer, together with a group of well-known academics, Elsevier Labs co-organized a Perspectives workshop at Dagstuhl Castle in Germany.

Entitled Force11: Future Research Communications and e-Scholarship 2011, it was a meeting of scholars, librarians, archivists, publishers and research funders who, individually and collectively, aim to bring about a change in scholarly communication through the effective use of information technology. As a key outcome, the group has just published the Force11 Manifesto, a description of issues identified as impeding change and a vision and plan on how to overcome them.

What is Force11?

Force11 is a virtual community working to transform scholarly communications through advanced use of computers and the Web.

The challenges and proposals cover two separate aspects of scholarly publishing: the format of publications and technologies to enable query of, and access to, them; and the business of scholarly publishing, which includes models for assessing and validating science and scientists, and who pays precisely for what.

Bridging the technology gap

Concerning the first set of issues, it is fair to say that the format of scholarly communications is, at this mid-point in the digital revolution, in an ill-defined transitional state — a ‘horseless carriage’ — that lies somewhere between the world of print and paper and the world of the Web and computers, with the former still exercising significantly more influence than the latter. Then, most types of scholarship involve claims, and all sciences and many other fields require that these claims be independently testable.

Good results are often re-used, sometimes thousands of times. But actually obtaining the necessary materials, data or software for such re-use is far harder than it should be. Even in the rare cases where the data are part of the research communication, they are typically relegated to the status of ‘supplementary material’, whose format and preservation are currently inadequate.

The last issue pertaining to the form of scholarly communications deals with online access. Here, the knowledge discovery tools are much better but they struggle with the fragmentation of research communication caused by the rapid proliferation of increasingly specialized and overlapping journals.

Force11 group photo

The Force11 attendees on the steps of the chapel at Schloss Dagstuhl. Photo by Leibniz Centre for Informatics.

Exploring all avenues

Ideas for solutions included experimenting with new, enriched forms of scholarly publications consisting of rich and interconnected relationships between knowledge, claims and data. This would require the creation of a platform to create and share computationally executable components, such as workflows, computer code and statistical calculations as scientifically valid pieces of content, and the development of an infrastructure that would allow these components to be made accessible, reviewed, referenced and attributed. To do this, we would have to develop best practices for depositing research datasets in repositories, that enable linking to relevant documents and have high compliance levels driven by appropriate incentives, resources and policies.

For the scientific domain, new forms of publication must facilitate the reproducibility of results: the ability to preserve and re-perform executable workflows or services. This will require us to reconstruct the context within which these objects were created and track them as data objects that evolve through time. In this way, the content of communications about research will follow the same evolutionary path that we have seen for general Web content: a move from the static to the increasingly dynamic, and from top-down articles to grass-roots blogs.

It also means revisiting the narrative structure of scholarly papers, and identifying portions where this narrative may be better structured for improved computational access, without losing the strong cognitive impact that a good story can have.

The impact on editors

For editors, in particular, these futures offer exciting new opportunities. Next to publishing papers, there are new formats that enable the integration of researcher’s workflows, such as myExperiment, Taverna, Vis Trails and Wings. These allow authors to share, and readers to experience, not only a textual description of the methods followed in the publication, but to actually run these workflows on their own laptops, and thereby experience what steps were taken to arrive at experimental results.

Scientific data and software could also be much more tightly integrated with the journal article. In repositories such as Dryad or Dataverse, data, whether it be in the physical, life or social sciences, can be deposited and kept available. If the journal then decides to allow the addition of, e.g. statistical program components (such as R, SPSS or MatLab code), the data in the data repository can be rendered and replayed within the article context, allowing a richer representation of the science. Elsevier’s Executable Paper Grand Challenge offered a platform to display many of these new components, and several are being implemented today. 

Life beyond the Impact Factor

The Force11 group also agreed that if we are to explore and implement new forms of scholarly communication, we will need to implement radical changes to the complex socio-technical and commercial ecosystem of scholarly publishing. In particular, to obtain the benefits that networked knowledge promises, we have to explore new academic reward systems that encourage scholars and researchers to participate and contribute to these efforts. This means acknowledging that a journal Impact Factor is only one component to measure the true impact of scholarship and that it needs to be combined with other impact measures.

We need to develop new mechanisms that allow us to measure the true contribution a particular record of scholarship makes to the world’s store of knowledge. It also requires all those involved in the scholarly information life cycle to acknowledge that current business models are no longer adequate support for the rich, variegated, integrated and disparate knowledge offerings which new technologies enable, new scholarship requires, and new players in the scholarly field (including non-Western countries and the general public) deserve.

In a collaboration involving scholars, publishers, libraries, funding agencies, academic institutions, and software developers, we need to develop models that can enable this exciting future to develop, while offering sustainable forms of existence to all parties.

The impact of these developments for journal editors would be better integration of journal articles with the rest of the knowledge ecosystem that scientists exist in today. Efforts such as Altmetrics, MESUR (both of which Elsevier is actively collaborating with) and others, aim to expand our concept of impact measures and ensure a high-quality representation of downloads, views, blog links and other elements. In many forums (e.g. see list of workshops below), we are actively engaging in a constructive dialogue with the Open Science/Data/Access movement, to develop ways of integrating existing and new business models.

Mapping out the path ahead 

The overall conclusion of the Force11 group is that the changing formats, tools, roles and business models of scholarly publishing form an immense challenge for libraries, publishers and software developers. The only fruitful way forward, we firmly believe, will be for all parties collaborating to build new tools that optimally support scholarship in a distributed open environment. Only by creating a demonstrably better research environment will we convince the entire system of scholarly communication and merit assessment to adopt new forms and models.

A great outcome of the Force11 meeting was that several library groups are interested in joining Force11, and working together to redefine ‘the research library of the future’. There appears to be a great amount of ideas, tools, and enthusiasm to do this work, and a willingness and interest to do this collaboratively. We are very much looking forward to strengthening the connections made this year, and developing plans to help build these fundamentally new platforms in 2012.

A (non-exhaustive) list of workshops about transforming scholarly communication held in 2011:

Do you share the views of Force11? Where do you see scholarly communications heading in the years to come? Let us know by posting a comment below.

Author Biography

Anita de Waard
Anita de Waard

Anita de Waard
Anita has a background in experimental physics. She joined Elsevier as a publisher in physics and neurology in 1988, before taking on her current role in 1997. Elsevier Labs stimulates the usage, awareness and integration of new information technologies within Elsevier. Anita’s interests include the application of Semantic Web technologies for scientific communication; her research focuses on discourse analysis of biological text, with an emphasis on finding key rhetorical components, offering applications in the fields of hypothesis detection and automated copy editing.

From Print to Digital

From Print to Digital

“…we really want potential authors to see what we can now do for them in the digital environment with all that means for enhancing, and building functionality around, the article.” — David Clark, Senior Vice President, Physical Sciences As a continuation of the discussion raised in the March 2010 issue of Editors’ Update, concerning the […]

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"...we really want potential authors to see what we can now do for them in the digital environment with all that means for enhancing, and building functionality around, the article.” — David Clark, Senior Vice President, Physical Sciences

As a continuation of the discussion raised in the March 2010 issue of Editors’ Update, concerning the trend from print marketing activities to online journal marketing, we would like to update you on recent developments. As Elsevier publishes more than 95% of its information online, and with the increasing use of smart content and APIs, the move from print publishing to digital dissemination is firmly rooted within the research community.

It is therefore a logical step for Elsevier to reflect this trend across all areas of the scientific publishing process. In the Marketing Communications team for Science and Technology (S&T) journals, a decision to focus on marketing journal content digitally has led to the removal of print sample copies at exhibitions. Instead, this team is channeling its efforts into improving journal visibility through online methods.

Stepping into a new era

“We have developed many online features to enhance our digital marketing campaigns such as CiteAlert, and community-wide announcements on publication speeds and Impact Factor results,” explains Nicoline van der Linden, Vice President Marketing Communications. “We have been using RSS feeds for some time now and recently we have been strengthening our presence on research and scientific blogs; social media channels; search engine optimization and search engine marketing to make our journals even more visible than in the print era.”

The first issue of a journal published each year continues to be freely accessible via SciVerse ScienceDirect. At exhibitions where Elsevier is present, laptops or iPads are used to demonstrate this feature to potential and existing authors. Visitors are also shown how online articles can be ordered directly from the exhibition booth and sent via SciVerse ScienceDirect. “Many visitors make use of this digital and environmentally-friendly service,” notes van der Linden.

More recently, developments in technology such as smart phones and iPads have enabled Elsevier to experiment in the field of mobile applications. The Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) launched the JACC iPad edition at the end of 2010, offering everything researchers had come to expect from their weekly issue, but enhanced with editor-selected resources from CardioSource and other integrated features. Elsevier’s Personal Selections application allows researchers to keep up-to-date by accessing the latest 25 articles (abstracts and full texts) based on their selection of keywords.  “These and other developments confirm how Elsevier is committed to continually serving the research community innovatively,” adds van der Linden.

Exceptions to the rule

According to David Clark, Senior Vice President Physical Sciences, “while there may be times when having a specific journal issue at a meeting can be useful, we really want potential authors to see what we can now do for them in the digital environment with all that means for enhancing, and building functionality around, the article”.

The author of the future

There seems to be little disputing that addressing authors’ needs, both current and future, remains a challenge that all STM publishers face. Embracing and enhancing new trends, though at times experimental, can lead to breakthroughs in how we connect with the author of tomorrow. As an editor there are a number of ways we can work together with you on your journal to ensure it remains at the forefront of your community. Your marketing communications manager or publishing contact can inform you further of the marketing plan in place for your journal.

We want to hear your thoughts

  1. What techniques do you already use to digitally promote your journal within the community?
  2. Are you active in scientific or research blogs? If so, which ones?
  3. Do you use social media in your role as a journal editor?

Please take a few moments to post your comments.

Author Biographies

Nicoline van der Linden

Nicoline van der Linden

Nicoline van der Linden
Nicoline oversees the marketing efforts for our S&T journals and scientific conferences. She started her career as a Molecular Biologist, followed by various publishing and management positions at Elsevier where she handled a variety of portfolios in Health Sciences, Life Sciences and Engineering. Nicoline was educated at the Universities of Amsterdam and Basel, as well as the Rotterdam School of Management.

David Clark

David Clark

David Clark
David oversees our program in physics, mathematics, computer science and materials which includes both some of the newest and longest-standing Elsevier journal titles. Previously he was a publishing director for physics and mathematics, publishing director for economics and a publisher for economics and for geography. David was educated at Oxford and London Universities.

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Collaboration Proves Key to Innovative Developments

“Applications are the new form of publications on the web.” — Vishal Gupta, Director, Developer Network The launch of the SciVerse platform in 2010 provided a forward-driven and collaborative scientific community with access to the world’s largest source of peer-reviewed content. SciVerse holds an abstract and citation database containing 41 million records – 70% with […]

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“Applications are the new form of publications on the web." — Vishal Gupta, Director, Developer Network

The launch of the SciVerse platform in 2010 provided a forward-driven and collaborative scientific community with access to the world’s largest source of peer-reviewed content. SciVerse holds an abstract and citation database containing 41 million records - 70% with abstracts - and nearly 18,000 titles from 5,000 publishers worldwide.

In November 2010, Elsevier expanded the service offered by the platform with the addition of SciVerse Applications, a gallery offering a new way of sharing knowledge, insight and improvement in workflows; all supported by steady input and feedback from the global research and developer community engaged through the Developer Network.

Jay Katzen, MD of A&G Markets, explains: “We spent a significant amount of time doing research with librarians and researchers across all segments including academic, government, corporate and health science.”

Referring to the new developments on SciVerse he adds: “Our goal is to foster the creation of a new type of community to collaborate and drive innovation, much like you see with Apple, Facebook, Google and others.”

Trusted Partnerships

By opening up its content, Elsevier’s Developer Network is leading the way for engaging experts from all subject areas to develop applications using available APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). The flourishing of this new scientific knowledge ecosystem, a concept brought to the public by Rafael Sidi (VP, Application Marketplace and Developer Network), was preceded by a number of trends: a call for openness and interoperability, personalization of information and an increasing need for trusted collaboration.

“As researchers become increasingly bogged down by information overload, creating tools to help them is crucial." — Michelle Lee, Director of Product Management, SciVerse Applications

Apps are being created to increase collaboration between researchers such as the Co-Author Visualizer, Prolific Authors, and Expert Search etc. On a broader scale, partnerships have become significant in the development of apps.

Vishal Gupta (Director, Developer Network) points to the venture between the US’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and Elsevier: “This resulted in the launch of the app and illustrates how researchers, government and web scientists are accessing scholarly content and linking this with government datasets to provide a richer experience to the end users in their scientific research.”

Some of the SciVerse applications now available

Another example is the Reflect-Network application, integrated within the life sciences journals on SciVerse Science Direct via Reflect, a tool that tags proteins and chemicals in a document. It addresses the workflow challenges of life sciences researchers by helping them quickly understand and visualize the content of an article. The application was developed in partnership with the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Germany, and the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research (CPR), University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

More than 3,000 interviews with librarians, information specialists and researchers have been conducted in a long preamble leading up to the emergence of SciVerse Applications and the Developer Network.  As Katzen remarks: “This is a way that developers can work with researchers, or researchers can become developers themselves and customize or make applications based on article content, author data, affiliation data, and abstracts…to really deliver more value for the end user.”

The necessity of collaboration is not new in research. It is deeply ingrained in the authoring and peer-review process. “Applications too need to be reviewed.  Product managers in the SciVerse Applications team spend considerable time engaging and supporting developers to review and ensure high quality apps.  In addition, users will also be able to review and provide direct feedback to the developer,” says Michelle Lee, Director of Product Management, SciVerse Applications.

Gupta takes this a step further: “Applications are the new form of publications on the web. They can provide additional insights to the researcher and can be accompanied by an applications note that can be further published in the traditional way. The use of the applications in the context of the underlying content will also enrich the value of the journal content, which in turn will help increase the journal usage and make it the ‘destination of choice’.”

Centered on categories such as collaboration, search, management (of information) and analysis (of information), applications will slowly pervade a researcher’s career. Supporting multidisciplinary research, applying ontology and semantic driven searches, bringing the exploration of numerous datasets to manageable proportions and offering valuable insight into author networks are a few examples of the significance of SciVerse Applications for research communities.

Increasing content value

Lee elaborates: “As researchers become increasingly bogged down by information overload, creating tools to help them is crucial. These could be simple apps, like the eReader Formats app that allows a researcher to download a PDF and put it on his iPad. Or they can be highly analytical apps like quantiFind that extract and aggregate data from our corpus and visualize that to illustrate trends. SciVerse Applications enables a radically different approach to how our customers and end users approach our content."

Author Biography


Gwendolyn Holstege

Gwendolyn Holstege
Gwendolyn has recently started work for the Media and Communities team of the A&G Markets department of Elsevier in Amsterdam. She is responsible for keeping the needs of authors, editors and reviewers top of mind when these relate to the online solutions Elsevier offers like SciVerse (ScienceDirect, Scopus, Applications ) and SciVal  (Spotlight, Funding, Strata). Prior to that, she worked in a number of different roles for A&G Markets. Gwen holds an MA from the University of Amsterdam.

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Article of the Future

Have you seen the Article of the Future?

“…it is not a project with a deadline, it is our never-ending quest to explore better ways to deliver the formal published record.” — IJsbrand Jan Aalbersberg, Vice President Content Innovation, S&T Journals With the rapid advance of new technology, publishers have been required to think creatively about the way they provide communications to the scientific […]

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“ is not a project with a deadline, it is our never-ending quest to explore better ways to deliver the formal published record." — IJsbrand Jan Aalbersberg, Vice President Content Innovation, S&T Journals

With the rapid advance of new technology, publishers have been required to think creatively about the way they provide communications to the scientific community.

But while the transition from print to online has been relatively smooth, the content of scientific articles, and the way they are presented, still follows a tried and tested formula laid down almost 350 years ago.

According to Marie Sheehan, Head of Communications for Innovation and Product Development, S&T Journals, this is a missed opportunity, and one that Elsevier is keen to address with its innovative ‘Article of the Future’ project.

The project aims to break away from the traditional ‘abstract, findings, conclusion, references’ format, and to radically transform the ‘reader experience’. The latest milestone in this ongoing project is the introduction of the ‘three-pane’ version of the article, prototypes of which will be unveiled in June this year at

An Article of the Future prototype in the field of Electro-Chemistry

While the prototypes featured on the website relate to seven specific scientific disciplines, the concept will apply to all journals and visitors will have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the new content and layout, before being invited to take part in a short online survey.

Sheehan says: “We really hope people will take the time to let us know what they think – we want to collect input from a broad range of disciplines to ensure we are meeting authors’ and editors’ needs, and to address those in future releases.”

Commenting on the project, Sheehan adds: “The first thing to make clear is that this is not a new Elsevier product, it is not a ‘thing’. Article of the Future is a process, a journey we are on to change the scientific article with regard to three key areas: content, context and presentation."

IJsbrand Jan Aalbersberg, Vice President Content Innovation, S&T Journals, explains: “As an author you want your work to be propelled, you want it to receive maximum exposure. And the more value your paper offers, the more it is seen, the more it is cited and that has a knock-on effect not only for the author, but also for the journal and the editorial board, as well as for the author’s institute.

“With Article of the Future we want to provide the best possible place to expose and explore research. But it is not a project with a deadline, it is our never-ending quest to explore better ways to deliver the formal published record. It is an ongoing journey with milestones, collaborations, results and ideas.”

One of those collaborations has taken the form of a partnership with 150 researchers from a range of disciplines who have been consulted each step of the way during the project’s process, via user interviews, behavior studies and tests. Together with Elsevier, they have focused on three main areas: content, context, and presentation.


Authors can now add their own discipline-specific and rich content such as interactive plots, chemical compounds, or interactive maps. Furthermore, new possibilities such as graphical abstracts and research highlights will enable users to more efficiently skim articles.


The context element offers authors opportunities to add a range of valuable connections to the published article, for example related research data sets, author information and research groups. Commonly used entities in the article can also be tagged and linked to databases, e.g. Genbank and Protein Data Bank, and context can also be pulled from these databases into the articles.

While many of the new content and context features will apply to all journals, others will be domain-specific.

Sheehan explains: “For example, Google maps (an application that enriches an article with research data visualized on an interactive map) has already been added to earth sciences, life sciences and social sciences journals and can be rolled out to other journals as needed.”


Presentation looks at the ‘readability’ of the article and aims to surpass the current HTML and traditional PDF with new content elements and better navigation.

Sheehan says: “One clear message we received during the partnership process was that researchers do want all the domain-specific bells and whistles that technology can add to a scientific paper, but they also want to simply focus on the message in that paper, which led us to a very clean reading pane in the middle of the three-pane view.”

The left pane will contain navigation options enabling quicker exploration of the article, while the right pane will allow for new article content elements and context exploration beyond the paper.

An Article of the Future prototype in the field of Parasitology and Tropical Diseases

Aalbersberg adds: “As the three-pane design separates navigation and extensions from the core article, it minimizes distraction and unobtrusively and intuitively connects the clean reading with the new content and context.”


As with many findings uncovered by the Article of the Future project, the three-pane view will be released on SciVerse ScienceDirect. Please take a few moments to view the prototypes at and complete the short online questionnaire.

Have you seen the Article of the Future? If so, we'd love to hear your views via our comment function at the bottom of this page.

Author Biography

Marie Sheehan

Marie Sheehan

Marie Sheehan
Marie is Head of Communications for the Innovation and Product Development department in Elsevier’s S&T Journals division. Since joining Elsevier in 2002, she has held various marketing and communications positions in the publishing organization.

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